SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

September 19, 2013

Blodgett: Take the pledge not to text and drive

There is nothing more tragic than a death caused by texting while driving. The texter is not malicious, but simply negligent, and the victim is just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some readers may know that in my position as Essex County district attorney, I prosecuted Massachusetts’ first fatal texting-while-driving case. It was an incredibly sad case that left a woman injured, killed a beloved grandfather and sent a young man to prison. While I take no pleasure in the outcome, I hope that case has taught our drivers to be responsible with their technology on the road. Unfortunately, I know that in the last year, there have been another 100,000 U.S. collisions caused by texting while driving, so we still have work to do.

For readers who aren’t familiar with the Massachusetts law on texting while driving, you should know that “manually composing, sending or reading an electronic message” is against the law and causing injury while texting is punishable by up to two years in the House of Correction. For most people, I imagine that the jail time is the easy part and knowing that you hurt, maimed or killed an innocent person is the hard part. Let’s face it, texting while driving can ruin your life.

Educating drivers of all ages about the dangers of texting and driving is critical. While most drivers certainly know that they shouldn’t take their eyes off the road — even for a second — few realize that texting while driving is a criminal offense. We all use mobile technology for work and to stay connected with friends and family, but we must use it responsibly and make sure that others do, too. Tell your friends, tell your children and tell your parents — we all have to be talking about the dangers of texting while driving.

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