What will it take to get distracted drivers’ attention?

A promotional poster warning about the dangers of texting while driving from Distraction.gov, the U.S. Government website for Distracted Driving awareness and information. (distraction.gov image)

A promotional poster warning about the dangers of texting while driving from Distraction.gov, the U.S. Government website for Distracted Driving awareness and information. (distraction.gov image)

Punishing texting drivers

You know how it is. You’re trapped behind some oblivious driver, poking along below the speed limit. You finally get to pass, and you look over and someone with a cellphone and an astounding inability to multitask. Then your blood pressure skyrockets because A) they’re not supposed to be doing that and B) you could definitely do it better.

And there’s a good chance you have done it. Despite the law barring the use of handheld devices, many people still take calls or compose text messages behind the wheel.

If the threat of a $124 fine isn’t enough deterrent, do we need something tougher? In our latest poll at HeraldNet.com, we asked what the punishment should be for that brand of distracted driving.

Twenty-two percent said there should be no penalty — that they should be free to chat and text. In an ideal world, they could even livestream their crashes.

Twenty-one percent said it should stay a $124 fine. Traffic deaths caused by distracted drivers have been climbing over the past few years. So while it would be a nuisance to lose the equivalent of a good pair of running shoes, it hasn’t been enough.

Thirty-seven percent back “ticket and tattle” — issuing stiffer fines and reporting violations to insurance companies. That’s the proposal from lawmakers who want to modify the state’s decade-old law on distracted driving.

Twenty percent voted to make distracted driving the legal equivalent of driving drunk or high. Our DUI laws include jail time, license suspension and stiff fines. That price might be a bit steep for a smiley face emoji.

If we really wanted to get tough, we’d take violators’ phones away. Too bad the Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

— Doug Parry, parryracer@gmail.com; @parryracer

Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile want to provide cellphone service at Paradise Visitors Center on Mount Rainier, but not install towers. Should they be allowed to?

❏ Yes, it’s safer and people want to be connected

❏ No, leave the distractions at home

Talk to us

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