Public safety not put first in bill killing

Published 12:06 am Friday, April 4, 2014

Mississippi lawmakers gave the green light Wednesday night for thousands of state drivers to pay no attention to the road for at least another year.

That’s right; lawmakers put their own wild imaginations and urgent need for instant communication ahead of public safety and plain common sense.

In a baffling display of ignorance as the final minutes of the 2014 legislative session ticked away, Rep. Bill Denny, R-Jackson, made a procedural motion that allowed House members to re-vote on a bill banning texting while driving.

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Both the House and Senate easily had passed the bill the day prior and the governor had already said he planned to sign it into law.

The new vote, accompanied by all sorts of excuses as to why the law shouldn’t be enacted, killed the bill.

The excuses ranged from comparing texting to other driving distractions that are not banned — eating or adjusting the radio.

Further, lawmakers said they didn’t want to restrict individual freedom. That argument falls short since a texting driver’s individual freedom should not be allowed to endanger the public by having one hand on the wheel and the other fingering a tiny keyboard.

But the most ridiculous of all was Rep. Ed Blackmon’s argument, suggesting the ban on texting would lead to unjustified traffic stops by police officers.

Law enforcement officers can pull over practically any motorist already with little to no cause. A law banning texting behind the wheel isn’t going to change that.

We can only hope that common sense and perhaps peer pressure from family, friends and others will provide the sense of safety and respect for the lives of others we all need to put both hands on the wheel and watch the road, not our phones.