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Get off the phone!

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 1:11 p.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 9:10 a.m. CST

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Last week I passed a woman who was talking on her cell phone while driving.

As I continued on my destination, I passed three additional vehicles where the driver was talking on their cell phone right on Princeton’s main drag.

For those who maybe missed out, who didn’t realize or can’t remember, it’s now illegal to talk on your cell phone (holding the phone to the ear) while operating your vehicle.

As a reporter, who is always on the go and in need of constant communication at my fingertips, I admit it’s been hard for me to choke down. I felt a little irritated when they took away texting and driving (even though I’ll confess I had a few close calls with the street curb on that one).

But whether I like it or not, similar to having to wear my annoying seatbelt, I can’t afford to not follow the new regulation.

The law is there to keep us safe, and if this law is going to potentially save my life or someone else’s life, then so be it. No phone conversation is worth anyone’s life.

For those who are thinking otherwise, here’s just one more reminder on what you might face if you decide that phone conservation is a little more important.

Violators can be fined $75 for their first offense. I don’t know about you, but I’d love to spend that extra $75 on something I want, rather than handing it over to my local police station. But if that’s just chump change for some folks, the second violation could be as much as $150 and a mark on their driving record.

For those willing to take it a little further, a third violation in the same year as the previous two could cost you a suspended driver’s license. No thanks! I know I take my driving freedom for granted way too much, but if that freedom was ever taken from me I’d lose, not only my job, but my sanity. Before anyone hits that point, I’d say it’s definitely worth looking into that “hands-free” talk technology.

However, if you’re still thinking the new cell phone law isn’t that impactful, our governor also signed his name next to legislation that increases penalties for drivers who injure or kill others in crashes caused by cell phone use.

Distracted motorists who injure someone face a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable with fines up to $2,500 and jail time. If a driver kills someone in an accident related to cell phone use, not only do they have to carry guilt for the rest of their lives, but also felony charges.

Yeah, better get to the closest cell phone store for that “hands-free” talk device. I’m being a friend right now, and telling you that phone conversation is not worth a felony charge and the amount of guilt you would feel if you took someone else’s life.

For those who are laughing and don’t believe cell phones aren’t a factor in car crashes, it’s my job to type up the area’s police reports for the newspaper. Therefore, I’m forced to read them all, and I really wish I had a quarter for every crash report I’ve read in the last three years that stated, “The driver admitted to looking down for a quick second to send a text message/dial a phone number before the crash.”

More than once have I reported on big vehicle accidents in this county, that were related to talking or texting on the cell phone. It’s not pretty, and it’s not fun reporting.

Get off the phone. Tell that person you’ll call them back. Make a note to call them back. Realize when the phone rings, it’s not the end of the world when you have to wait until you put the vehicle in park to call that person back!

Shaw Media Staff Writer Goldie Currie can be reached at gcurrie@bcrnews.com.

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