By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Keeping your eyes out for road hazards is a full-time business for the RVer. Between potholes and exit signs, our eyes are constantly moving. Then add in the “impaired driver” factor. Weaving between center and fog lines, driving wayyy too fast or slow, they telegraph an unmistakable signal that something’s wrong. What’s often wrong these days is the “texting driver.”
Not only is texting while driving a hazard to everyone’s health, it’s also illegal in 48 states. In most of those, a police officer can pull the texting driver over and cite them without needing any other cause (primary enforcement). Some do get nailed, but it seems there are plenty more out there that don’t – or they’re repeat offenders.
What’s to be done when you find a texting driver in your path? Law enforcement folks almost universally agree: Give them as wide a berth as possible. Police often report that folks get so buried in their texting pursuits they often don’t even notice when a police cruiser pulls up beside them. With their head in the proverbial clouds, the likelihood of getting clobbered by them is way too high for safety. When texting, a driver is 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident than a driver who is not texting.
Why such a high danger level? Flying along at 55 miles per hour, a vehicle travels the length of a football field in less than five seconds. That’s about the amount of time it takes proficient texters to enter a message and shoot it off.
What’s the best way to deal with the situation? First, don’t put yourself in harm’s way. Trying to “spank” a texting driver by whatever means probably won’t work – you’re more likely to find yourself getting set up for a “road rage” incident. Better to either slow down and let the texter get way out ahead, or get on ahead of them (provided they’re driving slow). In any event, when you spot a vehicle driven erratically, just assume the driver is impaired, and assume he doesn’t see you. At a safe distance, report them – call 9-1-1.
Police suggest the most important part of reporting a driver in this situation is to report the driving behavior, e.g., “weaving in the lane,” “driving slow,” “speeding,” with secondary emphasis on the texting. Providing location details like highway number and mile marker as well as description of the vehicle with the “tag” (license plate) number helps, too.