Five Grand Haven-area teenagers suffered serious injuries and trauma in 2012 while on their way to East Lansing to watch a girls state tournament basketball game. The reason for the crash: a cellphone and reckless driving.
Just last week, Kelsey’s tragedy brought about a state law that aims to save lives and make us all breathe a bit more easily while on the road. Let’s hope that’s the case.
Kelsey’s Law makes it illegal for teenagers in the graduated license program — drivers ages 14-17 — from talking on a cellphone while driving.
More than 30 other states have similar laws, so it’s about time Michigan followed suit.
But while teens are more likely than adults to be involved in a crash while using a cellphone, this law doesn’t go far enough in zeroing in on the real problem.
How many times have you nearly been side-swiped, run into, or otherwise witnessed a driver weaving along the road? How many times have you looked into that vehicle and seen someone texting or talking on their cellphone?
While it may have been a teen you saw, it’s also nearly as likely that it was an adult who had one hand on the wheel and another on a phone.
While texting and driving is already illegal in Michigan, it doesn’t stop people from doing it. Neither, probably, will the new law keep teens from talking on their cellphones.
Nor will it keep any adult or fully licensed teen from talking on their cellphones, from eating while driving, from reading a book while flying down the highway (yes, we’ve actually seen this), or from reaching back to grab their screaming child’s pacifier that just fell on the floor.
Distracted driving occurs every day in every place in every age group. And nothing is going to decrease this behavior unless we exert positive peer pressure. Let’s make it very uncool to be a distracted driver.
If you witness distracted driving with someone you know, kindly ask them to pay attention to the road. Ask to take the cellphone away from the driver when it’s safe to do so. Or suggest that you, not the driver, type in an address on a GPS. Tell them to stop fiddling with their iPod and drive. Offer to drive instead so they can focus on the fussy baby in the backseat.
If you’re alone while driving and need to take a call, or you’re lost and need directions, pull over. It might be considered rude or it might delay your trip by a few minutes, but it could save a life — yours.
So, please — for all of our sakes — do it.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.