A man yapping away on his cell phone drifted into my lane on Rte. 419 in Roanoke County Tuesday afternoon, forcing me to swerve my motorcycle close to the median. I honked the horn and he looked at me with a deadpan stare: No remorse, no regret, not even surprise.
Drivers who talk and text on their cells while driving have become more dangerous than drunk drivers on the nation’s roads. The problem has become so bad that U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has launched a “shut up and drive” campaign directed at distracted drivers.
LaHood says 6,000 people die every year and another half million are injured because of distracted driving: people talking or texting on cellphones, fiddling with their car radios, GPS units, reading, putting on makeup or other things.
Six states have banned using a cell phone while driving and another 21 have banned texting but such laws are seldom enforced and some states, like Virginia, make using a cell phone for talking or texting a “secondary offense,” which means a cop has to have another reason to pull you over.
The feds recently launched pilot programs called “Phone in One Hand: Ticket in the Other” in Syracuse, New York, and Hartford, CT.
Talk show host Oprah Winfrey wants a “No Phone Zone Day” in America, telling the story of 9-year-old Erica, who died when a driver using her cell phone struck the youngster’s bicycle just “15 pedals from home.”
When a drunk causes an accident that kills someone, he or she often faces charges of vehicular homicide.
The same should happen to distracted to drivers. They are a menace on the road and to society.
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