Interstate 22 was crazy Friday morning. It was the start of a long holiday weekend.
I had to make a trip to Olive Branch. Lots of times, I take Highway 178 when going to Byhalia and Olive Branch. It’s just slower-placed, and I like that.
Many cars passed me on 22 Friday morning. I was traveling 70 miles per hour, the speed limit, but it was like I was standing still.
One on the way there and another on the way back particularly caught a bit of my attention.
Both had to be going at least 80. And both drivers had their left hand on the steering wheel and their right hand on their cell phone, holding it up near the steering wheel. I couldn’t tell if they were talking, texting, watching video or catching up on social media.
A few miles up the highway I saw the big Mississippi Department of Transportation sign across the interstate. I like it. They change the messages regularly.
This one, for Labor Day weekend, said “Safe Driving, A Labor Of Love.”
Mississippi has a law against texting and driving. House Bill 389 prohibits drivers from writing, sending or reading text messages, emails or social media messages.
Mississippi currently has no restrictions on making or receiving calls or talking on a phone while driving.
The Mississippi Highway Patrol and others have urged lawmakers to broaden the law and make it hands-free, period.
A Tennessee law banning any hand-held cell phone use while driving took effect July 1.
Hands-free devices are allowed, including “earpieces, headphone devices or a device worn on a wrist to conduct a voice-based communication,” the legislation says. Dashboard mounts will also be allowed.
Tennessee is the 19th state to ban hand-held cell phone use while driving.
The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. Nearly 390,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving. One out of every four car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has reported that cell phone use while driving kills 3,000 to 6,000 people every year.
Here are a few examples from TeenSafe.com.
• A 19-year-old Kansas State University student died because of one letter: “k.” The message was not sent but it allegedly preceded the crash that caused her death. The recipient of the message was the driver’s sister who now helps educate teens about the dangers of texting and driving.
• A teen in Washington died after she allegedly was distracted by an incoming text while driving. Her car drove under the wheels of a logging truck. The teen’s mother now helps teens understand the dangers of driving distracted and uses a video that recreates her daughter’s crash to illustrate the horror of what those distractions may cause on the road.
The text can wait. Checking out the latest social media posts can wait. Those things are so unimportant.
Arriving safely to your destination and the safety of others should be the number one priority.