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By Beth Flanagan
Jan. 2, 2011, started out as a normal Sunday for me, but soon there came an occurrence that could have ended it all. As I was driving out Loretto Road to visit my parents, I saw a red Chevy pickup truck veering over the center line coming towards me. I saw that the driver had a cell phone up to his ear and was looking down, a really smart thing to do on such a curvy road. Luckily, he looked up just in time or the day could have had a very different outcome for me.
I don't know about the rest of you, but I am fed up with distracted drivers who cannot put their phones down and pay attention to the road. I have spoken with many people around Marion County who read my last column and have found out that we are all dodging inattentive drivers on an almost daily basis. I fight my battles with a pen, and I am asking all my fellow citizens to do the same.
I wrote a letter to Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and Representative Brett Guthrie telling them that the distracted driver laws need to be tougher. The people who text and check emails while driving have made it clear that they are not going to stop, and they are challenging law enforcement to catch them. That $25 fine does not scare anyone, least of all a teenage driver who thinks she/he knows everything. I think we should add a zero to the end of that fine. If paying a $250 fine for the first offense doesn't stop them, maybe losing their driver's license for six months will if they are caught again. I sincerely hope an 18-wheeler isn't what it takes to stop them.
We need to send a strong message to these drivers that we will not tolerate them putting us in danger any longer and that we are serious about making the highways safer. There will always be accidents and unfortunately some of us might die in them, but there is no reason to allow distracted drivers to make the roads any more dangerous than they already are.
I share this story with my freshmen, how I remember living way back in 1985, ancient history to them. We did not have cell phones then. We missed a few calls and messages and guess what? The Earth kept right on spinning and the sun came up the next day. Nobody's company went bankrupt because you didn't check your email at 65 mph.
Fellow Kentuckians, pick up your pens and battle with me. Write to our senators and representatives and ask for tougher distracted driving laws. If the science has proven that they are as dangerous as drunk drivers, then we need to treat them as such. They do not have the right to take away our friends and family members because they cannot do the common sense thing and keep their eyes on the road.
Editor's note: Beth Flanagan is a resident of Lebanon.