Texting in traffic – Coping with a distracted driver

21

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.

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21 Comments
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Dave J
4 months ago

Many of us seem to forget when arguing that it should be impossible to use a phone while in motion that in the case of responsible drivers it’s not the driver using the phone it’s the passenger. In my case the passenger holds both phones. Hers and mine and serves as a mobile secretary.
When she drives the rolls are reversed.

Gordy
4 months ago

Another Point, what about the “touch screens” in newer vehicles they can be as distracting as a phone or worse.

Ron Jewell
4 months ago

My son lives in Hawaii, and they are strict with phone use while driving. He wasn’t using his phone, but he received a $300 ticket for having it in his hand. There isn’t much texting and driving in that state.

BruceinAZ
4 months ago

I’ve always thought it would be a smart idea to require jamming devices be installed on every licensed vehicle that would prevent using a phone at all while driving with the exception of making a 911 call.

Gene Cheatham
4 months ago
Reply to  BruceinAZ

I used to be in the electronics industry and, as much as I hate more government interference in our lives, thought it would be beneficial for emergency vehicles to activate a control to silence entertainment audio in nearby vehicles. This could get done internally of the vehicle systems. Between booming cabin volume and noise deadening interiors it’s difficult to hear EV’s.

Scott Morris
4 months ago

Of all the state’s we have driven through the worst was California. We researched it and just los Angeles alone averages 65 accidents a week due to phone use while driving.

John Padgett
4 months ago
Reply to  Scott Morris

It’s bad all over. All dense populations will seem like there is more texting. Back in Illinois,62917 1800 people. See it all the time probably way more % wise. Not so many cars so it’s ok to text. Local cops love it. One of the city’s best source of income.

Robbie
4 months ago

So, the solution to getting someone off their phone is to use your phone?

John Padgett
4 months ago
Reply to  Robbie

You’re suppose to have pulled over to call
911

Karen Willis
4 months ago
Reply to  Robbie

Agree that using phone while moving is also bad, but at least one is not looking down and typing.

Darrel
4 months ago
Reply to  Robbie

Or hands free. For example Garmin GPS ties into our cell phone for wireless hands free communication – still looking ahead. Just long enough for the 911 call.

Wolfe
4 months ago

I like to just lay on the airhorns continuously until they hang up…. I’m subtle like that.

More seriously, most people on this list are about to be called in for “slow driving”… you get a ticket at 54 or 56mph now…

M. Will
4 months ago

Most of the idiots who continue to use there phones in there cars while driving will keep doing so until they cause an accident that gets some innocent person killed. Then they come out with the old, “Never Thought It Would Happen To Me” routine and then its to late.

Darrel
4 months ago
Reply to  M. Will

“most”???

Fox
4 months ago

In Saskatchewan Canada they impound the vehicle for 7 days. I think they should impound the phone too.

Drew
4 months ago
Reply to  Fox

Good one Fox! Thanks.

Jeff
4 months ago

I have said for YEARS, Cell Phones should automatically be DE-ACTIVATED when you turn on the ignition! It is possible in this Electronic Age we live in. Car Manufacturers could easily build this into vehicles today. The only feature that would work on a Cell Phone would be an Emergency Signal or Text. Forcing the driver to have to pull over in a SAFE Place and turn off the engine! Then the Cell Phone would work again.

This is possible! However, the Cell Phone Industry and Auto Manufacturers and many other so called civil rights groups would scream BLOODY murder! Plus, there would always be some third party idiots that could turn a profit by making a HACK to override such a system.

The FINES for getting caught driving and texting are very small. So for some it doesn’t matter. The best way to enforce the Distracted Driving Laws, (texting and driving, talking on the phone in a School Zone, etc.) is to TICKET the Driver and Confiscate their phone! They can pick it up, when they pay their FINE! Unfortunately, this will never happen!

Best thing you can do is give these people a WIDE BERTH!

Be Safe out there!

John Padgett
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

Yes. Take the phone. They’d be panicked till they got it back.

Peter Boyce
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

I don’t use my phone while driving. However, if needed, my wife or other passenger might text or talk on the phone. Disabling them is an option, but impounding vehicles and increasing fines might work better as well as suspending licenses.

Darrel
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

There is NO reason for PASSENGERS in a moving vehicle to not have the ability to use a phone while underway.