Q What is it going to take? How many more injuries or deaths due to texting drivers? I am now sure that the only way this is going to change is when a politician's wife, daughter, son or parent is killed by a texting driver.
Unbelievably, the other day a vehicle in the slow lane on Interstate 880 was traveling with its right wheels over the shoulder line at 30 mph and the driver was texting away, causing two near-accidents. Even with other drivers sounding the horn, she continued at the same speed doing the texting.
I see this all the time and I chalk it up as just dumb people, but now it is a problem that is out of hand. How many more lives do we need to lose before something is done?
A Crashes due to distracted driving are soaring for all drivers, young and not so young. A study by the Governors Highway Safety Association showed 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths increased 19 percent in the first six months of 2012, many of them attributable to distractions like texting. And a study by the McGowan School of Business found that 4 out of 5 college students have used cellphones to text while behind the wheel.
The AAA says it may take a decade for the message to sink in and this epidemic to start to ease. I think that is too optimistic.
Q I'm sure the CHP and other cops must have some great stories to share about drivers on cellphones or texting. Can they share some with us?
A Here are a couple.
From CHP officer Teresa Becher:
"An officer was responding to a major injury accident with emergency lights and siren on. He came upon a vehicle traveling in the No. 1 lane that would not move to the right. The officer had to shut down his lights and siren and move around the right side of the vehicle. The person was texting and never noticed the officer's presence."
And from Belmont Lt. Patrick Halleran: "A driver was traveling at 30 mph and clearly not looking at the road. When the officer asked him what he was texting, the driver admitted he was not texting, but was watching YouTube videos. He was cited."
Q I think the fines for texting or cellphone use while driving are much too low. We think it should be at least $1,000 for a first offense. Why? I've seen so many texting drivers weaving all over the road. Sometimes drifting out of their lanes or staying stopped at an intersection holding up traffic, because they are looking down at their cellphone. What's your take on this?
A A littering fine can run up to $1,000, while a carpool violation is around $500-plus. Texting is much more dangerous, yet the fine and penalties amount to a mere $160. It needs to be much, much more.
Q Upping the fine won't stop drivers from texting. Making it a moving violation with a mandatory 2 points on your license will. I have a friend that has received three cellphone-related tickets in the past two years, and yet when changing insurance companies he was told that those tickets don't count against you because they are not moving violations. The fact they are not moving violations is utterly ridiculous.
Sorry to vent, but I just about got sideswiped on my way to work by a person on the cellphone while driving down Dougherty Road in San Ramon.
A You have a right to vent.