TXT to RIP

The Baltimore Sun

Drivers addicted to their keypads, beware: It soon may be illegal in Maryland to send or receive text messages while you're behind the wheel.

It's bad enough when people with hand-held cell phones let themselves be distracted by long, rambling conversations while the scenery flies by. Cell phones have become a major cause of traffic accidents, some of them fatal.

But drivers who twitter and tweet via typed messages on BlackBerries and the like are even worse. They have both thumbs on the keypad and both eyes on the screen, when they should be keeping their hands on the wheel and their attention on the road. They're a hazard to everyone. The human brain just isn't wired for simultaneously punching tiny buttons, making sense of shorthand phrases like "Where R U?" and getting safely to one's destination. Attempting it is 2 dumb 4 words.

Outlawing text-messaging from the driver's seat should be a no-brainer. But lawmakers have resisted an outright ban on cell phone use in cars, arguing that the state can't legislate every potential source of distraction. That's a reasonable argument, as are the concerns of GPS companies, who worry their products could run afoul of the law.

But it shouldn't be that hard to craft exemptions in the legislation to deal with such objections while at the same time strongly discouraging drivers from text-messaging at the wheel.

Commuters in a hurry may think it's fine to multi-task while LOL with both thumbs. But it's hardly worth it if they end up RIP.

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