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Distracted driving is dangerous driving

Friday, February 15, 2008

Ever since the invention of the automobile, it has been important for the driver to be vigilant and aware of what is going on around them. Automobiles are, in the hands of the wrong person, one of the most serious killing machines ever invented.

Technology has made the automobile easier to drive and safer, but inventions such as radios, video screens and cell phones have given drivers distractions that can turn deadly in an instant.

There have been numerous accidents and fatalities that can be blamed on cell phones. Text messaging on cell phones has grown in popularity, with 46 percent of teens surveyed by the Automotive Association of America (AAA), that they have engaged in texting while driving.

A measure introduced in the Iowa Legislature would ban teens from talking on cell phones while driving and all motorists could be banned from sending text messages when behind the wheel.

In the bill's current form, drivers who hold intermediate licenses or special minor's licenses would be barred from text messaging or talking on their phones while operating a vehicle. Violators could be hit with a simple misdemeanor and a $30 fine. The infraction would also count against intermediate license-holders, who need to have 12 months of violation-free driving to qualify for a full license.

At least 17 states and the District of Columbia, have enacted phone use restrictions for young drivers, according to the Governor's Highway Safety Association. Last May, Washington became the first state to ban all drivers from sending text messages.

There is no doubt that distracted driving is dangerous driving. Distractions existed long before the cell phone was invented. Drivers can be distracted by talking to others in the car, changing the radio station, putting on makeup, shaving, even reading.

Public safety concerns need to be addressed and lawmakers are trying to hit a moving target. Something will need to be done, but regulation only works with education.

We hope lawmakers can strike a balance that will accomplish their goal to make the roads safer.