Using cell phones while driving: It’s not worth it

In June 2010, laws governing the use of cell phones for making and taking calls and text messaging while driving got a whole lot stricter.

This is when these actions became primary offenses, meaning police can issue drivers a $124 ticket for this violation alone.

Still, even one year and numerous news reports and informational campaigns later, drivers continue to take their chances by using cell phones while operating moving vehicles. This fact was proven in Camas on Wednesday as longtime Police Officer Tim Dickerson led an enforcement emphasis to catch people violating the cell phone law. Several tickets were issued, and some violators seemed unaware of the specifics of the law.

There is no doubt that texting and talking on cell phones have become major parts of our everyday lives. Most of us wonder how we ever did without the ability to make and receive phone calls at a moment’s notice.

But while in many ways these modern devices make our lives easier in a world that moves at lightning pace, making improper or just plain stupid decisions about using them can cost lives.

According to the Washington State Department of Licensing:

o 6,000 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2008, while 500,000 were injured.

o A driver talking on a cell phone is as impaired as a driver with a .08 blood-alcohol level.

o A driver who is texting is as impaired as a driver with a .16 blood-alcohol level — double the legal limit.

o Drivers talking on cell phones are a half-second slower to hit the brakes in emergencies and miss more than half the visual cues seen by attentive drivers.

When you really think about it, there are very few legitimate reasons that would require a person to talk or text on a cell phone while driving. This is especially true because taking a chance by doing so has the potential to have dangerous and even deadly consequences. It’s just not worth it.

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