In the Texas Legislature
Hey, Rick Perry: Keep your hands off the texting-while-driving ban
Two weeks ago, I was sitting at a red light in Irving. Truth be told, I'm usually doing something on my phone while stopped at a traffic light.
It once seemed a good use of my time, as it helped pass the seconds from red to green. But this day, my phone was safely ensconced in my cup holder while my hands rested at 10 and two.
I think the credit for my rapt attention belongs to KERA's pre-election coverage. But whatever caused me to put my phone down helped me survive the next 30 seconds, when the driver behind me had a seizure and pushed my car into oncoming traffic.
When a two-handed activity becomes mainstream for drivers, legislative action is warranted.
I had enough presence of mind to tap my brakes and honk my horn before safely navigating the intersection that was I was forced into. As I pulled into a parking lot, the car behind me slammed into a telephone pole.
To the surprise of several ambulances and police officers who rushed to the scene, no one was seriously injured in the crash. Had I been a few seconds slower to react due to fumbling with my phone, who knows if we all would have walked away from the scene unscathed.
It's a hypothetical, yes. But when it's your soul in the driver's seat, the experience hits home.
This session, the Texas Legislature will once again consider a bill to ban texting while driving. Last time around, Rep. Tom Craddick's bill passed the House and Senate before being vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry, who said he didn't want to "micromanage the behavior of adults." What I wouldn't give to micromanage Rick Perry.
Every possible distraction doesn't deserve to be made criminal. Listening to the radio, eating and even talking on the phone are all no-hands or one-hand activities. There aren't currently any laws against knife juggling while driving. Probably because, unlike using a cellphone, knife juggling isn't an interest of 85 percent of Americans. But when a two-handed activity becomes mainstream for drivers, legislative action is warranted.
Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia have already banned texting while driving. Texas currently prohibits bus drivers, those under 18 and anyone in a school zone from texting.
If the Texas House and Senate, not exactly bastions of nanny state supporters, say that a more comprehensive ban is in the best interest of our citizens, who is Rick Perry to stop it?
True, he has the power to veto any old thing he likes as governor, but that doesn't mean he should use it. A nanny state can just as easily be perpetuated by one man refusing to give the people what they want as it can by oppressive laws. Nannies can be bullies too. If Perry doesn't want to sign the bill directly into law, then why not put the issue to a public vote?
Perry is well on his way to forcing his beliefs onto residents of the Lone Star State, who by all accounts would prefer protection from mayhem than a government that ignores the wishes of the majority of its representatives.