Has this ever happened to you? Your car is stopped in a line to an intersection, and the light turns green but the traffic around you doesn't move. You look to see what's causing the delay and you see the car ahead of you holding things up, the driver looking down at his lap.
Or how about this? You're driving and you glance to your right. The driver in the car next to you, also speeding down the road, is holding a cellphone up near the steering wheel, tap, tap, tapping the screen with a thumb.
Have these things ever happened to you? Of course they have.
They happen to all of us, virtually every day. These little suburban scenes have become so commonplace, in fact, that oftentimes we don't even notice them anymore.
Here's an exercise we all should consider. Let's each start keeping a traffic diary. At the end of every trip we take in the car, let's jot down what instances of distracted driving we encountered.
Let's do that for a day or a week or a month and see what we learn.
(You know what? That's such a good idea, we may just have the entire newsroom do it. Send the whole team of reporters out one day or one week or one month to record the distracted driving it finds. Fair warning: If we do, don't let your license plate number end up in our log.)
If we all kept those diaries, we predict with confidence, they would be filled with instances of distracted driving. All of us cross it in our paths all the time. One of the editors here recounts a story from a year ago when his car was struck from behind -- while it was still moving. He wasn't stopped at a light; he was slowing as he approached a light. And suddenly, a bang from the car behind his.
The driver of the other car told the police officer she had momentarily looked down.
Looked down where? Looked down why? The police officer didn't ask. Didn't pursue any line of questioning. And no matter where or why she was looking down, did not issue a ticket for distracted driving.
It's difficult to say whether the police officer's nonchalance in that incident is representative of anything. But there is little evidence to indicate that the state's texting law is being enforced in the kind of relentless and comprehensive way that is necessary if we're going to eradicate the texting menace from our roadways.
Texting while driving is dangerous!
We all know this, but yet so comparatively little is being done to combat it. The state's law on this threat went into effect in 2010. It's time for a vigorous campaign from all quarters to enforce it. Let's make it clear to everyone that if you text while driving, you're going to get a ticket and you're going to pay a hefty fine.
Let's stop texting while driving from happening.