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In Focus: It is time for distracted drivers to finally see the light

Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
Signs that suggest to police a driver might be texting include weaving in traffic, making longer stops, driving at inconsistent speeds and driving with one’s head down.

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Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 9:02 p.m.
 

Dear distracted driver:

You don't know me, but you passed me on Route 65 over the weekend.

I watched you from afar, your minivan sometimes straddling the line separating the southbound lanes while going well over the speed limit. I estimate that you were driving at least double the limit.

I caught up with you at a red light, and, when the light turned green, saw you cross the double yellow lines into oncoming traffic before quickly swerving back into your own lane.

As I passed you, you didn't even look up from your phone as you came into my lane and nearly sideswiped my car.

Distracted driver, did you know that, according to government statistics, more than 3,300 people in the United States were killed in crashes that involved a distracted driver in 2011?

The government defines a distracted driver as someone who is eating or drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, reading, adjusting a radio, texting or using a cellphone in any capacity.

In other words, you.

Do you even care that by texting or surfing the Internet, whichever you were doing while driving, you not only put yourself at risk, but everyone else sharing the road with you?

In an effort to get people like you to think twice before picking up your smartphone while driving, Pennsylvania banned texting while driving last March. If a police officer sees you fiddling with your phone, you can be pulled over. The fine is $50.

Maybe you didn't know that.

Distracted driver, I don't claim to be the most perfect driver in the world. I've texted while driving before, too.

But I've stopped.

I've learned that nothing is that important that it can't wait until my vehicle is stopped.

I hope you'll learn, too.

Kristina Serafini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1405 or kserafini@tribweb.com

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