Texting behind wheel still ok here

By Steve Estes

Another Legislative session has come and gone and another Florida Legislature has allowed a proposed ban on texting while driving to die on the vine.

No one is sure of the number of people who are killed and maimed yearly by accidents caused because someone is paying more attention to their text messages on their phone than to the traffic around them.

But we can bet the number far exceeds the number of people who wanted to dye an animal some ridiculous color.

Yep. The Legislature sent the Governor a bill that will allow folks to dye their animals any color they see fit. This was an important measure—to someone—for some reason.

But our illustrious elected leadership could not grow the stones to make texting while driving a secondary offense.

We believe we know why.

If texting while driving becomes illegal, most state Legislators would become criminals.

We also heard some lawmakers suggest that tourists, far and away the state’s top economic engine, would be the ones most targeted by the new law as they wouldn’t know of the ban. And ticketing visitors is not the way to present a friendly face for the state.

But neither of those are a reason not to invoke some common sense.

Texting while driving might soon surpass alcohol as the number one killer in automobile crashes.

Texting while driving, particularly among teenagers, has become so prevalent that youth in the same car will text each other across the seats rather than open their mouths and speak to one another.

There are few in the law enforcement or highway safety fields that will name anything other than texting while driving as the top danger on the roadways today.

And yet with all the empirical and anecdotal evidence available, our esteemed elected leadership thought it more prudent to waste time on repealing a ban against dying animals a different color than on fighting a major killer on our highways.

More than 30 states have implemented a ban against texting while driving. Those Legislators understand the need to safeguard lives. Unfortunately, ours don’t seem to have the same mental acuity.

Our elected leaders wasted time on filing court challenges against their own constituents rather than live within the boundaries of the Constitutional amendments passed by the voters strictly limiting the practice of gerrymandering to achieve optimum results for the party in power when drawing representational district lines.

Our elected leaders wasted time on trying to hand public education to private corporations.

Our elected leadership wasted time debating the possibility of privatizing prisons with the caveat that the proposal to take over the prison saves the state at least seven percent in expenses. The actual program doesn’t have to save seven percent, just the proposal to do so has to conclude that is the number.

Our elected leadership wasted time turning away money from the federal government to aid in education because it required that something other than abstinence be taught in public school educational systems.

Our elected leadership didn’t bother to waste time implementing new jobs programs that will cure the unemployment and underemployment that is rampant in the state.

But our elected officials could waste time researching, writing, debating and finally voting to approve a repeal of a ban on allowing folks to dye animals something other than the animal’s original color.

So while blue goats, pink dogs, purple sheep and faux black cats can come back in vogue, drivers around the state remain absolutely free to keep one eye on the traffic and the other on their text messages on the phone screen.

And absolutely free to kill other drivers through inattention.

Good job.

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