Time for a hardline on those who drive while using their cellphones | Groshart

Anyone who spends any time driving around here won’t be surprised by the following “news” from a recent survey by Pemco Insurance:

Northwest drivers admit to cheating on the state’s texting while driving laws.

Well, duh!

For a short time after the law kicked into effect, more drivers than not appeared to be following the rules. Not any more. It’s easy to spot the scofflaws.

Drivers intently staring at their lap while at a stoplight most likely are texting. Worse, many are staring — and driving.

A check of some national statistics shows the danger.

The minimal amount of time a person’s attention is taken away from the road when they’re texting and driving is 5 seconds. That doesn’t sound so bad, except that if you’re traveling at 55 mph, this equals the length of a football field without looking at the road.

The law is pretty clear about driving and cellphone use: it’s illegal for drivers to use a hand-held cellphone — stopped or not. And while some try to lessen the danger by using a speakerphone or hands-free device, the net result is about the same. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, using those methods can be just as distracting.

Despite what many people may think, most cellphone calls or text messages don’t reflect any emergency. Unless, of course, you answer the call or check the text and find that doing so has, in fact, caused an accident.

The answer is for people to act responsibly and not use their cell phones while driving. But as we’ve seen with speeding, there’s apparently not enough responsibility to go around.

We expect police officers to take a hardline on speeding. We should encourage them to do the same for those driving while using cellphones.

Craig Groshart, Bellevue Reporter editor

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