IMO, one of the most significant threats to cyclist safety is the motorist who is distracted from that critical task, by whatever it may be. And some of the most common distractions are posed by electronic handheld devices, most often cell phones. More recently and alarmingly, drivers are composing text messages on their tiny keyboards. (Anybody who would do that while driving doesn't have enough common sense or concern for the safety of his fellow citizens, to be using public roadways!)
Many jurisdictions - including both Twin Falls and Meridian here in Idaho - have passed specific laws prohibiting texting-while-driving. Critics claim that the current inattentive driving laws are adequate... and I'd agree, if they were vigorously enforced. But "inattentive driving" is a matter of judgment, and very hard to prove unless an accident is involved. Probably a third of the motorists I see these days could be accused of inattentive driving, but many don't get into accidents... often because of the avoidance maneuvers by more diligent citizens.
State senator John McGee tried to get a statewide ban on the practice enacted last year, and pledges to do so again this year. According to McGee, "Texting while driving is 30 times more dangerous than even drinking while driving."
Another supporter of such legislation is Liz Catherman. Her daughter Kassandra, 18, was killed while texting in a tragic accident, when she drifted into oncoming traffic.
I had a huge change of heart about Liz Catherman and her motives while watching a TV story a couple days back. Her daughter was at fault in the fatal accident. I've always felt that there were other overlooked victims - those who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I was surprised by Ms. Catherman's compassion for those other victims. In the story, she explains, "On Dec 29th, 2009...my daughter made a couple of poor decisions...she decided to text and drive and not wear her seatbelt. When you're on that public road you're involving the public and the public has a right to be safe on the roads."
My hat is off to Ms. Catherman. I wish other roadway users realized, like she does due to her personal tragedy, that texting-while-driving is a POOR decision!
Previous commentary HERE.