Caldwell Sen. John McGee says texting while driving is as dangerous as driving while drunk.
Police officers can already charge someone with inattentive driving if they see erratic behavior on the road. But McGee has introduced a bill in the Legislature that would clarify to law enforcement that texting while driving simply is inattentive driving.
It might not seem like much of a difference, but McGee’s addendum would make it easier for police to write a ticket without having to wait until it’s too late. If the bill becomes law, an officer could write a ticket the minute he sees someone texting at the wheel. He wouldn’t have to wait until he sees the driver swerving all over the road.
Someone in violation would be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail or a $300 fine.
The idea of a ban on cell phone use while driving has not been popular with many Idahoans. While some argue it is a distraction that increases the likelihood of a wreck, it can also be done safely and responsibly. If not, the result is inattentive driving, and that is already against the law.
Texting is another story. Simply put, you cannot watch the road when you’re texting. Your eyes have to look at the keys while you type. Idaho should impose a clear ban on texting while driving for the same reason we don’t allow people who can’t see to drive — you can’t be safe when you don’t see the road.
Researchers at Virginia Tech determined that people who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash than those who don’t.
A ban on this dangerous behavior isn’t unnecessary government intrusion into our freedoms. Driving is a privilege, not a right. We ban drunk driving because it’s not possible to drive safely while under the influence. Ditto for driving while texting. It’s a no-brainer.
- Our view is based on the majority opinions of the Idaho Press-Tribune editorial board. Members of the board are Publisher Rick V. Weaver, Managing Editor Vickie Holbrook, Assistant Managing Editor David Woolsey and community members Ann Crabb, Rodney Moore and Amy Larson, all of Nampa; Opinion Editor Phil Bridges, advertising representative Melissa Valencia and community members Brian Bishop and Mike Oke, all of Caldwell.