WE COULD LEARN A THING or two from New York State about efforts to reduce/eliminate texting while driving.
On a recent road trip from Minnesota to the East Coast, I noticed signs along Interstate 90 in New York advising motorists, “It can wait… Text stop parking area 1 mile/5 miles.”
Brilliant. Instead of simply complaining and admonishing, New York State is offering a solution—a place for motorists to pull off thruways and state highways specifically to text. And, yes, motorists were using those no amenities text stop parking areas.
Additionally, New York state law bans drivers from using a hand-held mobile telephone or portable electronic device while driving. The state is even considering implementing use of a Textalyzer, a roadside test to check cell phone usage.
In Minnesota, drivers 18 and older can talk on their cell phones while driving. But no driver can legally text.
In neighboring Wisconsin, drivers also cannot text while driving. But that doesn’t stop some. Last Friday afternoon my husband and I watched a silver ION weave on Wisconsin Highway 21 about 20 miles east of Tomah. The driver’s behavior was so dangerous that we stayed a safe distance behind as his car crossed multiple times into the oncoming lane and then back toward the shoulder. And not just barely over the center line, but significantly over. Not until we were stopped by road work did we get close enough to the ION for me to photograph the car and to observe the driver’s head down in texting position. I was prepared to call 911, but we had no cell coverage in this area near the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. Later, when we pulled off the highway into Necedah behind the ION driver, I saw him parked and texting. I wanted to stop, rap on his window and ask him what was so important that he had to endanger other motorists by texting while driving on a very busy Wisconsin state highway.
Laws are only as good as their enforcement. Therein lies part of the problem. With limited resources, cops can’t possibly be everywhere. So maybe New York is on to something. Offer an option to texting while driving other than “Don’t text. It’s the law.”
© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling