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Comments about ‘Letters: Distracted driving’

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Published: Wednesday, March 13 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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ECR
Burke, VA

Thank you, Kaye, for this important message that cannot be stated too many times. I'm sorry for the loss of your friend.

As you note in the letter, it is not just texting or talking on the phone that distracts drivers. Driving is a privilage granted to those who are supposed to be responsible. And when you are in control of this mass of steel you should be focused on one thing - driving. I suppose law enforcement could be more diligent in their efforts to stop this unsafe practice of driving while distracted but what will have more a greater impact is if each of us takes responsibility to drive safely ourselves and then encourage those we are riding with to do the same. Stories like the one Kaye describes are too common place in our society today. Just a moment of taking our focus away from the task of driving can lead to tragedy for many - the victims and the perpetrators. As Seargent Esterhouse used to say, "Let's be careful out there."

  • 5:38 a.m. March 13, 2013
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pragmatistferlife
salt lake city, utah

One of my close friends lost her 17 old daughter to a texting driver a few years back and the senselessness of this has been heart breaking to watch. Still I'm perplexed as to how we stop this. I've come to the conclusion that an almost draconian enforcement campaign is the only thing that will get peoples attention. I live in a very well off neighborhood and for all practical purposes except this one my neighbors are good people, but the second they get in their car they immediately become almost lawless. They can't pull out of their drive way without picking up their phone. Traffic laws are not even suggestions. I just two minutes ago stood at my kitchen window and watched four cars just blow through a four way neighborhood stop, with children on the corner waiting for a school bus. Heaven help you if your foolish enough to start through an intersection when the light turns green, because that's where you'll be..dead.

one old man
Ogden, UT

I had two close calls yesterday while driving in Ogden.

But in Utah, our legislators lack the courage to stand up and do what's needed. We need traffic laws with penalties that have real TEETH in them.

Visiting in Wisconsin and Phoenix, I was struck by how polite other drivers were. Then I discovered that Wisconsin's traffic fines start with numbers that blow a Utah driver's mind. And they are enforced! In Phoenix, speed meters with cameras line the streets and virtually every intersection has a red light camera. Fines are stiff. But for the citation to be issued, the driver's face must be clearly recognizable in the photo.

One Arizona legislator who has long opposed those laws was nailed running three red lights in a row one day. Could that be why Utah's legislators are reluctant to pass tough laws -- they might have to change their own driving habits?

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Government could remove the cause of vehicle deaths due to cell phones. But it would require that we give up the freedom to talk and text when in a moving vehicle. The phone company can control the operation of cell phones but will only do so if government commands it to do so.

People can make the government do so by electing the government concerned with the welfare of people rather than the welfare of business.

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Government could remove the cause of vehicle deaths due to cell phones. But it would require that we give up the freedom to talk and text when in a moving vehicle. The phone company can control the operation of cell phones but will only do so if government commands it to do so.

People can make the government do so by electing the government concerned with the welfare of people rather than the welfare of business.

Open Minded Mormon
Everett, 00

In Utah, drunk driving is just a theocratic extention of the Word of Wisdom.

Since, Distracted Driving is not defined in the Word of Wisdom - it's not a sin.
And to many here - If it's not a sin, it's perfectly legal.

Perhaps if the Prophet was to say something over the pulpit about it, or have a letter read in Sacrament Meeting...

[...who knows, it worked for State Caucus attendance.]

Owl
Salt Lake City, UT

Open Minded Mormon,
Did the WofW influence DUI laws in the other 49 states or are you only on a rant? Cell phone distraction is a secular issue, a serious one at that, and snide comments about religion only trivializes it.

custer
Boise, ID

Always walk or jog facing traffic. Then you can observe traffic in front of you, and are able to move out of the way if you see an erratic driver who is impaired via drugs, alcohol, distraction, etc. When you are walking on the left side with traffic flow, you don't have a clue what is going on behind you.

wrz
Pheonix, AZ

Sorry for the loss... but what you, Kaye, and others should do if you want to get out and exercise is to go someplace where 'several-ton' vehicle traffic is not. Many people jog on the roadside which is a very dangerous practice. Even the sidewalks can sometimes can be a dangerous place to get that daily exercise in. So, be smart and careful, joggers. Tragedies like this ca be avoided with a little common sense.

RedShirt
USS Enterprise, UT

To "Open Minded Mormon" again, you are wrong. Read Utah Code 41-6a-1715. Careless driving defined and prohibited. It clearly states that you are guilty of careless driving if a person "commits a moving traffic violation under this chapter other than a moving traffic violation under Part 6, Speed Restrictions, while being distracted by one or more activities taking place within the vehicle that are not related to the operation of a motor vehicle, including:
(i) using a wireless telephone or other electronic device unless the person is using hands-free talking and listening features while operating the motor vehicle;

(ii) searching for an item in the vehicle; or

(iii) attending to personal hygiene or grooming."

What we need is enforcement of the laws that we already have on the books.

Mr. Bean
Pheonix, AZ

@custer:
"Always walk or jog facing traffic."

No, no. don't walk or jog on the road or even roadside at all. Roads are for vehicles... sometimes they're big, heavy, and dangerous. Sometimes the driver is all over the road... And if it's getting dusk, joggers are hard to make out. Especially if they are not wearing bright, reflective clothing. I know, I know... they say jogging is 'road work.' But, as wrz recommends, find another place to exercise. The l(w)ife (or husband) you save may be your own.

Ford DeTreese
Provo, UT

Excellent but tragic letter. I often drive behind cars that are wandering all over the street or driving way under the speed limit and holding up traffic. When I finally get past them, it is inevitable that they are chatting away, oblivious to what's going on around them.

I do not use a cell phone much (because I sit at a desk all day), but one day returning to work from picking up some items for the office, I called ahead to see if someone could meet me in the parking lot to fetch the items. Mine was the only car on that stretch of the road and there were no pedestrians, so I felt safe calling. But I was impressed at how easily I wandered out of my lane just dialing those 10 digits. If you're doing this on a busy street, you're nuts and at some point will probably have some serious regrets to live with.

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Seems like conservatives don’t want laws enforced until after an office is committed and if laws are not enforced or are unenforceable still don’t want any new laws. The problem with not enforcing the law until after the deed is done, is that the victims might be dead beyond repair. And the guilty might be dead also. I guess the police could make the fine payable form the estate of the deceased.

Another way might be to have a dash cam pointed at the driver and operating while the vehicle is in operation. A tape video of the driver would be proof of distraction plus the speed and other pertinent information could be recorded. Periodically the tape would be submitted to the authorities for review to see if any laws were broken. A better idea would be not to use a tape, but transmit the info to the authorities where they could watch it is real time. Parents could also watch.

Alfred
Pheonix, AZ

@Ultra Bob:
"Seems like conservatives don’t want laws enforced until after an office (sic) is committed..."

How does one commit an 'office?'

"The problem with not enforcing the law until after the deed is done..."

I think you're onto something. I see cops sitting beside the road while vehicles whiz by way above the posted legal speed limit. Most deaths on the freeways/highways are caused by speeding, not distraction from cell phone usage. Why aren't the cops enforcing the speed limit laws?

"Another way might be to have a dash cam pointed at the driver and operating while the vehicle is in operation."

Another good idea... but alas, something like that is already available. It's called 'radar.' And it's used (supposedly) to catch speeders. But, again, you seldom see it being used. The cops could make a mint for the state if they would only pull speeders over and ticket them... and save alotta lives to boot.

Happy Valley Heretic
Orem, UT

If the police treated "Distracted Driving" like they treat "Tag lights" being burnt out, the state could make bank on fines.

RedShirt
USS Enterprise, UT

To "Ultra Bob" isn't that how we usually enforce laws? Since we are not living in a world where we can see the future we can't punish people until a law is broken.

Think of it this way. Do you punish your kids before or after they break a rule at your house?

How about this for a philosophical thought: If you nobody breaks a law, does it need to be enforced?

As for your solution, I have an easier one. Don't pay for texting on your teen's phone.

Truthseeker
SLO, CA

Driving is the No. 1 killer of teens in this country, accounting for about 25 percent of teen deaths each year. About 3,000 to 5,000 teens die annually in car wrecks, enough to fill the halls of a large high school. Or two.

Recently, the Governor's Highway Safety Association release preliminary figures for 2012 that show a troubling trend: After 10 years of declining, teen driving deaths are on the rise.

Although teen crashes seem random and unpredictable, they actually often follow a predictable pattern: It's likely a group of teens heading nowhere in particular, probably late at night, and going fast. Often, they're not wearing seatbelts.

Researchers have identified the dangerous habits of young drivers, who can't ever be considered safe behind the wheel because they are simply too novice. There's a common thread for many fatal crashes: More than one passenger in the car, especially if those passengers are male.

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

RedShirt.

The thing that deters a person breaking the rules the first time is the THREAT of punishment. Punishment itself is to confirm that threat so that the person doesn’t do it again.

I have a rule that children may not play with fire. Because of the bad consequences I cannot allow the children to break the rule before enforcing it. I do my level best to keep fire starters out of reach of children.

About your suggestion, I no body breaks the law, you don’t need the law in the first place. It’s sort of like a rule that the children cannot fly unaided higher than 100 feet.

For the most part civilization expects voluntary compliance of its rules, but the threat is there for the actions that have harmful effects.

RedShirt
USS Enterprise, UT

To "Ultra Bob" actually it sounds like you have another rule that you enforce. You have a rule that your kids cannot touch the fire starters. That is the rule you are enforcing.

Actually, you are wrong about the need for laws. Just because everybody obeys them does not mean they are not needed.

airnaut
Everett, 00

Yippee!

They passed the law out-lawing teen texting while driving.
The penalty - $25

BTW - Spitting gum out on the ground in Utah is - $300 fine.

When was the last time someone was killed or seriously injured by stepping in gum in this state?

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