OPINION: Texting drivers and slow drivers should be punished as harshly as drunk drivers

We all encounter those foolish folks who combine driving and texting with the multitasking skills of a dairy cow. Their distracted driving is shakier than the lead singer in a rumba band.

And we all come across those cautious tortoises behind the wheel who clog our highways and byways much like gigantic cheeseburgers and peanut butter chocolate cheesecake gunk up our arteries.

I say the cops and the courts should treat slow and texting drivers just like they do drunk drivers.

Granted, drunk drivers are a deadly species. But many who drink and drive are functional behind the wheel because practice makes perfect until the time comes when it is not so perfect.

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I have known many guys who were real pros behind the wheel after a hard night of drinking and could navigate a car more safely than a little old lady from Pasadena who needs to sit on two phone books to see above the steering wheel and drinks nothing stiffer than unsweetened ice tea.

Statistics compiled by Mothers Against Drug Driving (MADD) show an average drunk driver has driven drunk 80 times before his or her first arrest. That’s scarier than Halloween.

A texting driver is freighted with even more peril and we should all be yelling about this like a sentry on guard duty.

The 10th ring of hell should be reserved for those drivers who kill someone while drunk and texting.

A report on distrtacteddriveraccidents.com says driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.

That figures, considering that many more people text and drive than drink and drive.

Of course, there is more to distracted driving than texting. Drivers engage in secondary behavior during more than half of their time behind the wheel, whether it is fiddling with the radio, glancing back at the kids, fixing their hair or even applying mascara (God knows what happens if they hit a bump).

Texting is the No. 1 distracted driving activity because addiction to smartphones is a national epidemic and the drug and alcohol treatment centers should be working up a program about this and be twinkle quick about it.

One of my absolute pet peeves is the presence of slow drivers who seemingly always are in the way, especially when I’m running late. It’s almost as if the Good Lord is punishing me for my tardiness.

Slow drivers obviously are not wolfing through the pastry tray of life. Not-so-faint whispers of mortality must be screaming in their ears. They drive like people for whom time has stopped. Warp speed are dirty words to them.

Even pokier than high humidity, they stick to the right lane like a clot of cereal grains stuck to the bowl. What’s even more stick-fondue-forks-in-my-ears-and-stir worse, at times they squat in the PASSING lane! When that happens, they force people to pass on the right. Which can cause confusion and disorganization and trigger a foaming chaos of an accident.

A report on esurance.com says driving too slowly can be just as dangerous as speeding -- perhaps more so when turtle motorists light the blue flame on the pilot light of aggressive drivers who suddenly morph into modern versions of Joie Chitwood’s Hell Drivers.

Slow drivers are a menace in residential areas, too. Turning a corner and quickly catching up to a driver who seems almost parked creates the danger of a chain reaction of braking and perhaps road rage.

You don’t have to briefed on how to eat your morning cornflakes to know that drivers on the crawl are significant accident risks.

Driving slower than the speed limit is only justifiable when conditions are slicker than a glacier or in a drenching downpour when a splashing rig on the highway can make your car behave like a bar of soap in a tidal wave.

I say society must attach the same stigma to slow and texting drivers as it does to drunk drivers. Otherwise the carnage of twisted bodies and metal, broken bodies and glass, and traffic jams transforming roads into parking lots will continue.

I’m not suggesting these motorists be staked out in the sun. Only that their punishment fit the crime.