Put the Hammer Down on Texter-Drivers

A new PEMCO Insurance poll shows that although the number of Washingtonians who text while driving has increased, most drivers support the new no-texting fines or think they should be even higher.

The fine is $124. Forty-four percent of those surveyed think that’s about right, 40 percent believe it should be higher while just 11 percent feel it’s too high.

Evidently, younger drivers don’t believe talking on the phone while driving is as dangerous as texting. Those 35 years old or younger think a $124 is too much for a cell phone fine, according to the survey.

I don’t quite fit into that demographic, but I’d have to agree with those kids. I’m not too good with a cell phone. I don’t know how to get directions from it, watch TV, create and listen to my own radio station, send money from my savings to my checking, keep a calendar, send myself reminders of doctor appointments or friends’ birthdays, and the multitude of other things they can do these days. But I can push a button when it rings and say hello. That’s not crazily dangerous. Like when I dump a story on the editors and run out the door, you can bet they’re going to call me on the way home about something. As soon as my kid figures out what’s wrong with my blue tooth, I’ll even be able to talk to them legally.

Calling somebody while driving is a different story. If the person is in my contacts list, I can pull it off, though I still have to glance at the screen and away from the road to scroll through the numbers. If I have to punch in a number, forget it. Now take that degree of difficulty and multiply it by lots when you talk about texting.

I am proud of myself for being a dinosaur who can text in the most primitive form. It takes my full concentration, however, and I keep messages short because it’s so hard. Not trying it while driving is totally self-preservation. I know people get really good at it, but not good enough to text and drive at the same time. If caught, I think the cops should take their phone away. That’d probably be a better deterrent than a $124 fine, cutting off their entire communications network.