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

More in Local News

Paul McElhany points out how far the new building will extend past the current building at Northwest Fisheries Science Center's Mukilteo Research Station on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 in Mukilteo, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Oh, crab! NOAA’s Mukilteo waterfront fish lab won’t be rebuilt

Bids for a new Northwest Fisheries Science Center research station are too high. Are condos next?

Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney during an interview at the sheriff’s department June 17, 2020. (Sue Misao / The Herald)
Auditor denies Fortney recall group the extra time it seeks

He said he could extend the deadline for signature gathering if ordered by a court or the Governor.

State Patrol worker from Everett charged with attempted child rape

Trevor Smith worked as a commercial vehicle enforcement officer assigned inspecting school buses.

A pre-loaded syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine sits on the table for the next person in line during a vaccine clinic as South Pointe Assisted Living on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish County to receive its largest shipment of vaccines

Even as case counts drop, researchers are finding a growing number of COVID variants in the state.

Austin Johnson, 26 years-old, trains on the Centennial Trail in Lake Stevens and is planning to do a 24-hour run to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
24 hours, 80 miles, $23k raised for mental health

Austin Johnson completes a 24-hour run along the Centennial Trail to raise money for suicide prevention.

Everett man identified after being found dead in creek

The cause of death for Renee Baltazar Romero remained under investigation Thursday.

Everett man found dead in creek near Lake Stevens

The man, 28, was reported missing Thursday. A neighbor found his body in Little Pilchuck Creek.

Autopsy shows Lake Stevens woman, 20, drowned Saturday

Anna M. Lopez was swimming when witnesses noticed she was not responsive, according to officials.

Joe Hempel swims off of the shore of Seawall Park on Friday, Jan. 29, 2021 in Langley, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Scantily clad is the dress code for these cold rush swimmers

Immersed for 30 minutes in frigid water would kill most of us. It energizes these swimmers.

Most Read