Late last Wednesday night, House Bill 484, which would have made it illegal for any driver to text and drive, died unexpectedly due to a “motion to reconsider” by Rep. Bill Denny of Jackson. Despite a promise to sign the bill from Gov. Phil Bryant and despite the fact that the bill was passed by large majorities in the House and Senate, the motion defeated the efforts of many determined advocates of the law, including the undersigned and many other pediatricians statewide.
In spite of HB 484’s defeat, there are a few things we should all agree on. First, no driver – especially no teenaged driver – should text and drive. The average text takes 4.6 seconds. If you are going 55 miles per hour you will travel 100 yards in 4.6 seconds. It is not a good idea to travel the length of a football field with your eyes closed. Someone is going to get hurt.
Second, there will be a bill against texting proposed again next year. When the governor and both houses agree on a proposed law and so many Mississippians support it, it cannot be long before that bill becomes a law.
Third, a texting ban will save lives, especially the lives of teenage drivers. Legislative champions of a texting ban will continue to find strong support among Mississippi pediatricians. Pediatricians are pretty nice folks in general, but episodes like this one get us fired up. We like to see our patients grow up to be happy, healthy and productive citizens – not to see their lives cut short by highway crashes.
Randy Henderson, MD, Hattiesburg
Susan Buttross, MD, Canton
Tami Brooks, MD, Madison
Sara Weisenberger, MD, Jackson
W. Rick Boyte, MD, Madison
M. Nan Frascogna, MD, Jackson