Friday, November 27, 2020

Why you’re yawning, texting and driving

| July 5, 2020 1:00 AM

Did you ever benefit from a friend who tossed an arm over your shoulder, and muttered something mundane that proved monumental 20, 50, maybe 75 years from now?

You know, something like, “Give me the keys; I’ll drive you home.”

Something like, “Who knew these things were so addictive and that we didn’t take the threat more seriously?”

Something like, “Putting more and more fascinating ways to be distracted in front of you when you’re supposed to be driving can’t be a good idea.”

Starting last Wednesday through Jan. 1, 2021, it’s illegal to play with gadgets while driving your car. The distracted driver language is more and less than that because it’s been fashioned into a law, but the point is, for half a year, violators can text while driving, get caught at it and receive an “educated” stamp on the forehead where maybe a scorched “lesson for a lifetime” could have made a real difference in people’s lives.

Maybe your unpunished violation wouldn’t have changed the big scoreboard in the sky anyway. What you do know, though, and which really makes one wonder why legislation like this is an LOL and not a WTF is that 241 people were killed in Idaho in crashes attributed to distracted driving between 2014 and 2018.

Distraction equals death. Or it can. Quicker than most people can even imagine. But are you even listening to the nice officer who’s giving you information on the dangers of distracted driving when you’ve already figured out he’s into educating you, not sending you to prison?

People aren’t taking this new law very seriously not because it’s new, but because they’ve had years of practice. Whether it’s the cool granny or the young mom or the dude on his way to a new job, Idahoans have become masters of the automotive internet universe. They have a right to be there and do that, by God.

You know the drill:

Slouch down slightly in front seat.

Don’t watch oncoming traffic closely.

Divert eyes lower still.

Look guilty as possible, because in fact, you are.

In this run-up to really hitting the ol’ violators where they hurt most, Idaho legislators have satisfied themselves with inch-by-inch incremental progress eventually getting something done. Maybe this education phase of legislative enlightenment should come with plastic handcuffs and fake blood so we’ll have tangible proof, albeit made in Taiwan.

Clearly, we haven’t learned to take distracted driving seriously enough.