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Wed, Oct. 23

Miner Editorial | It’s about developing a habit

(Adobe Image)

(Adobe Image)

In today’s world, we are always busy. We are always looking for the next appointment, the next event, the next anything. We are always texting, messaging, calling our friends, glancing at our cellphones, waiting for a notification, it’s that email from work we’ve been expecting.

And some of that neediness for our devices has crept into other aspects of our lives.

We glance at our phones when reading the paper, eating breakfast, sipping on our coffee. And we keep glancing at them. We glance at them as we throw on our jackets, pick up our keys and walk to our cars.

Worst of all, we glance at our phones on our commute. It’s just a quick moment, to see if we have a new text.

But that moment could make or break a life.

We all know distracted driving is dangerous driving, for everyone on the road. Taking away attention from the roadway while moving 35 or 40 mph around town, or 65 to 70 on the interstate, is all dangerous.

Texting and driving is another form of distracted driving that needs to be deterred.

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation’s most recent statistics, texting while driving was the cause of about 846 traffic accidents in 2017. About 270 of those accidents resulted in injury, and one resulted in a fatality.

Think back to when seatbelts were first put in vehicles. They were an option. Wearing them wasn’t enforced, and a lot of people just didn’t wear them.

Then along came the “Click It or Ticket” laws. More and more people were getting pulled over and ticketed for not wearing seatbelts. And those tickets aren’t cheap.

All of a sudden, wearing a seatbelt makes a whole lot of sense.

The same should be done for texting and driving, and with legislation moving through our state government, we are taking those first steps.

The City of Kingman is ahead of the curve on this law, and always has been. The Kingman Police Department is able to pull people over for using any kind of handheld device. We are a hands-free device city in that regard.

However, you drive outside the City, and that isn’t a law that encompasses all of Mohave County. City by city the laws around cellphone use in moving vehicles change, and that is both annoying and confusing.

Under HB 2069, a first violation of the law would be punishable by a civil penalty of $100. A second violation would result in a $300 penalty. If a traveler is found to have been texting while driving in a motor vehicle accident, he or she will be fined $500 – unless that accident results in death to another person, in which case the offender would face a $10,000 fine.

The Kingman Daily Miner fully supports the state implementing a statewide texting and driving ban, and we also encourage our state lawmakers to take it one step further, as Kingman has done, and ban any handheld devices in order to encourage the use of hands-free methods.

There are already steps people can take to limit their level of distractedness from their devices. Bluetooth is implemented in a lot of newer vehicles, and some models allow users to use voice to text when their phone is linked to their car. New Android and Apple devices can also have safe driving aspects including hiding notifications while the car is in motion.

These aren’t golden solutions, but they do help.

This texting ban law isn’t an immediate deterrent. People will still text and drive, but if we start now, it can help develop a habit. Just like when seatbelts were implemented in the 1970s. One $100 ticket for texting and driving, and maybe people will think twice about it.

Nothing is as important as getting home safely. Not an email from work, a text from a parent or child, not switching to the next song.

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