Our Opinion: Remain alert to technology’s distractions

Ban texting while driving for all motorists

The thought of a driver trying to type a text message while navigating a 4,000-pound projectile is frightening.

And, yet, it happens all the time on Missouri roadways. And, for Missouri motorists older than 21, it’s legal.

Lawmakers again this session are attempting to extend the prohibition on texting while driving to all motorists. Five texting-while-driving bills — ranging from general to specific — are being considered by the House Transportation Committee.

We see this as a fundamental public safety issue designed to prohibit a dangerous practice.

How dangerous?

The “It Can Wait” campaign sponsored by AT&T links 100,000 crashes annually to drivers who are texting while driving.

Missouri Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Ron Replogle cites statistics that show motorists who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash.

The same cellphone that is invaluable to a stranded motorists can be a dangerous distraction if misused.

The double-edged quality of innovation was discussed in a Chicago Tribune viewpoint — “Automotive technology holds peril, promise” — published Wednesday on the Opinion Page.

“Along with expanding entertainment options on the road,” the article reported, “information technology is transforming the driving experience for the better.” It added: “… vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems could reduce accidents among sober drivers by an astonishing 70 percent or 80 percent, the agency (the U.S. Department of Transportation) estimates.”

The automotive industry is manufacturing what the viewpoint calls “smartphones on wheels;” a consequence is drivers are becoming more distracted.

To address this public safety concern, the industry gradually is replacing inattentive drivers with alert vehicles.

In the future, we all may become passengers in our own vehicles, transported to our destination while free to text, view, game, etc.

Until that time, motorists must remain attentive to the serious business of driving.

A prohibition on texting while driving for all motorists is desirable and necessary legislation.

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