Weekly Feature



2012-07-26 / Editorial

One year later: texting ban makes strides

Bee Editorial

Policies and procedures aren’t put into place until someone does something wrong. This happens at home when a child acts out of line, in the workplace when an employee is late, and at all levels of government when officials feel it’s necessary to help their constituents make better choices.

Some might see that as government intrusion, but frankly, some people need to be told that what they’re doing is wrong or dangerous. This is exemplified by the texting-while-driving ban, which was signed into law one year ago.

Using a cellphone while operating a vehicle cannot be stereotyped as something that only young adults or teenagers do. People today are so “driven” to work around the clock and so tied to their mobile devices that many feel obligated to multitask while they drive. We email, text, surf the Web, catch up on news, create music playlists and touch up presentations from the comfort of our vehicles, thanks to the power of a smartphone. But doing so is a dangerous and often deadly habit.

No one seems to understand this better than Kelly Cline. The West Seneca mother lost her 20-year-old son, A.J. Larson, in a related accident several years ago. He was apparently texting his girlfriend when he rolled through a stop sign and collided with a truck. She retells this story each time she speaks to a new group when advocating for safer driving.

Since losing her son, Cline has devoted her time to ensuring that others don’t make the same mistake. She partnered with Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy, united other advocates under the Families Against Texting While Driving banner, and was an integral part of the anti-texting legislation that was enacted in 2011.

The ban, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo officially signed into law last year in Orchard Park, makes it a primary offense to text or operate a handheld device while driving. The consequences for doing so adds three points to a driver’s license and a fine of up to $150.

Law enforcement officials in New York State have since issued more than 20,000 tickets for texting while driving. Fifteen percent of those tickets — outside of the five counties of New York City — were written in Erie County, amounting to 1,418 tickets in the last year.

The need for such a law is perhaps a sad testament to the way we value work over life, and even safety. It’s tragic that the number of people continuing to text or talk while driving is so great.

Yet we fear it will remain that way because we, as humans, continue to do what we do until we’re caught — or it’s too late.

We hope that lives are being saved, and that Cline’s efforts have not been in vain.

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