This morning while walking to the store, a young woman on a motorbike passed me, wobbling and weaving. I glanced up sharply and saw she had her head down and was TEXTING.
"Are you crazy?" I shouted at her back.
She turned her head, looking startled, called out "Sorry!" and continued along, utterly undisturbed.
The state of Utah has just passed the toughest anti-texting law in the United States. As a result of an accident in 2006 in which a 19 year old boy killed two people after losing control of his SUV while texting his girlfriend, a law was passed which carries a penalty of 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
On the story I heard on NPR, a teenage girl was interviewed who, giggling, admitted happily that she texted all the time while driving and that she really couldn't help it. She and her friends call it "Driving While Intexticated."
So I'm wondering how to get through to all those people who think it's funny. Because there are an awful lot of them, and I seem to meet at least two or three every day.
My brother-in-law Fabio has an answer. As a highly skilled carpenter who works on large building projects, Fabio is a safety maniac. There are few things which incense him more than people who don't respect the dangerous power of machines, particularly when they put other people's lives in jeopardy. If children are involved, he can be pretty dangerous himself.
One day he saw a very small child riding in the front seat of a car - no seatbelt, no car seat. Outraged and righteous, he walked up to the man at the wheel and vented. "Are you CRAZY?" he shouted. "Don't you care about your kid? Don't you realize he could be killed this way?"
"F*** you," the man replied, gunned his motor and pulled away, leaving Fabio in a cloud of dust and exhaust fumes.
Not very effective, he thought to himself.
So the next time it happened (unfortunately, it doesn't take long), he tried a different approach. "Hey, man," he said, walking up to the guy in the driver's seat. "I got a $500 fine for not having my kid in a car seat just last week. Just thought I'd let you know."
"Hey, thanks a lot," the guy said. "They're pretty strict, hah?"
So thank goodness for the state of Utah and the institution of the law. Righteousness, reason and concern for the welfare of others are all very well, but when money talks, nobody walks. Or texts.