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Statewide texting ban makes sense

Texting while driving?

That’s an alien concept to me.

I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve ever texted, period.

It was never while driving, either.

I don’t have manual dexterity for texting.

Nor the patience.

So if Uncle Sam or the Florida Legislature wants to ban texting while driving, I have no problem with it.

As for banning cell phone usage while driving?

I could live with it, though it’s not an issue like texting while behind the wheel.

Texting can be addicting, said one clairvoyant Florida legislator.

Annoying, too.

I found out the hard way.

We were at a concert at the then-Ford Amphitheater a few years ago, sitting in lawn chairs on the grassy hill not far back from the reserved seating.

Consequently, our row felt like a thruway during the show.

One concertgoer was so absorbed in her texting while walking in front of us, she stepped on my feet.

I let it slide.

Then she came back and did it again.

I felt like tripping her.

If someone is that engrossed texting while we’re sitting down, I do not want to see her texting while she’s driving.

The same goes for people so absorbed in texting they bump into you at the supermarket.

Courtesy has gone south for a lot of those people.

Put them behind the wheel and they can be downright dangerous.

Which is why State Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, is sponsoring a bill that would make texting while driving punishable as a secondary offense.

While texting would be OK at a red light under SB 416, doing it while driving would result in:

n A citation on top of some other offense like speeding, reckless driving or a crash.

n The first violation would be a $30 fine.

n The second, within five years, would be $60 and three points -- six if it results in a crash.

Whether Detert’s bill makes it through the Legislature is debatable.

Thirty-five states have banned texting while driving.

That Florida is one of 15 holdouts is no surprise.

Our state legislators have shot down previous bids to ban texting-while-driving on grounds it is an intrusion into the driver’s private space.

How honorable.

It’s not the texting driver’s privacy I’d be concerned about.

If I’m driving along U.S. 301 and I notice the driver in the other lane is texting, I’m going to put some space between us -- and fast, so they don’t intrude into my space.

As for banning cellphone use while driving?

I don’t view that as being as big a deal.

Except when I’m trying retrieve my cellphone when it’s ringing.

I usually keep it in my right pants pocket, so whether it’s on my ring tone -- Van Halen’s “Mean Streets” -- or it’s on vibrate, by the time I get to it, I’ve usually missed the call.

That can be a problem.

Especially when it’s my wife wanting to know why I’m running late for dinner.

Again.

Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Please call Vin Mannix at 941-745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL 34206 or e-mail him at vmannix@bradenton.com. Please include a phone number for verification purposes.

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