The readers’ forum

Increase penalty for texting while driving

 

Our first texting-while-driving ban isn’t strong enough to be successful. This ban, which went into effect on Oct. 1 hinders local police officers from enforcing it efficiently.

The main reasons it is ineffective are because of exceptions included in the law and the fact that it is a secondary offense.

The texting-while-driving ban contains unnecessary exceptions. Drivers can text while stopped at a red light or in a traffic jam. Also, the violation is a secondary offense, which means that a police officer cannot pull the violator over unless another traffic violation is committed at the same time.

This makes it difficult for local law enforcers to implement the texting ban.

In addition, it is hard to prove that people are texting while driving, because such people could be changing the radio, picking up an object that fell on the car’s floor or looking at the GPS system recently included in the iPhone’s software.

As a driver, I can see the point of view of those who text while driving. If I were one of those law offenders, I would be less likely to text while driving if I knew it was a primary offense with a $150 fine.

Even better would be making the use of all wireless communication devices while driving illegal, with the exceptions for those in emergency and law-enforcement vehicles.

The state Legislature can impose a law prohibiting the use of all wireless communication devices while driving, thereby reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by accidents involving texting.

Every day people, especially teenagers, have car accidents because of distracted driving. The Oct. 3 article, Texting and driving ban not tough enough, points out the gaps that make this law weak and ineffective. It states that 11 percent of fatal crashes where the driver was under 20 were caused by distracted driving and one in five of the teen drivers involved in a fatal accident was talking or texting.

We can dramatically reduce these numbers through the legislative process. Now is the time for change.

Yoel Morales, Pembroke Pines

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