By: Alex Olivares
Opinion: Current fines are not enough to deter irresponsible motorists.
Even though legislation has established state-to-state bans for using cell phones behind the wheel, drivers still continue to text.
Drivers gambling with their own lives may be stupid, but passengers who sit back and allow their lives to be threatened by the irresponsible behavior of others are downright pathetic.
About 49 percent of adults surveyed by the Pew Research Center said they had been a passenger in a car when someone either made a call or sent a text while driving.
Of those surveyed, 44 percent of adults said the driver had used a cell phone in a manner that put either themselves or someone else in danger.
Legislators in multiple states enacted bans on texting behind the wheel because of the danger that distracted driving presents to the public.
There are 41 states that ban all drivers from text messaging while driving, according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association.
In California, drivers are fined $159 for their first offense and a base fine of $279 for subsequent violations.
But cell phone use is not being deterred by current penalties imposed by state driving laws.
If the perils of driving distracted are so alarming that lawmakers worked to pass bans across the country, it makes sense for the people directly affected by distracted drivers to speak up.
The Pew Research Center found that about 40 percent of passengers ages 18 to 34 would likely not complain to a driver about their cell phone use.
When a driving safety law is passed, it is for everyone’s good.
Each person needs to recognize their right to have their personal well-being protected and not just by law enforcement but by everyone who travels on the road.
If not for personal safety, passengers should at least speak up to protect those in other cars and pedestrians near the road.
With about 400,000 injuries caused by distracted driving each year, according to the National Highway Safety Association, we must not simply look to the law to protect citizens, but take personal responsibility when the opportunity presents itself.