Saturday, October 25, 2014

Educators, other adults should be setting a better example

5/7/2014

Texting and other digital communication while driving became illegal in Kansas in 2010.

Since then, Kansans have had plenty of time to get up to speed on the law.

Texting and other digital communication while driving became illegal in Kansas in 2010.

Since then, Kansans have had plenty of time to get up to speed on the law.

Still, some believe the rules only apply to texting while driving, which isn’t so. The state law extends beyond texting to any instant message or email, as using a digital device to write, send or read written communication while driving is prohibited.

The ban covers drivers in moving vehicles, and at stop signs and traffic lights.

Proponents of the safety-minded law pointed to studies that showed the obvious: the likelihood of a crash was much higher when a driver’s focus turned to such communication. Kansas Department of Transportation officials cited statistics that showed texting drivers in particular were 23 times more likely to be involved in a traffic crash.

The public has since had plenty of education on the subject, and it’s been a focus on schools.

With that in mind, it was all the more surprising and disappointing to know an area principal misused his cell phone while driving — and with students in the vehicle.

Mark Penka, principal at Dighton High School, about an hour northeast of Garden City, recently acknowledged checking out information on his cell phone while behind the wheel. While he might only have spent moments looking at the phone, it was time taken away from the road, and dangerous. Penka reportedly apologized to parents, and school district officials pursued unspecified corrective action.

Much of the attention regarding distracted driving has targeted teen drivers, and for good reason. They rely heavily on digital devices for communicating, and texting is a favored way of doing so. Plus, they’re inexperienced drivers.

But while teen drivers often are singled out, many adults also continue to make the dangerous mistake of digital communication while driving.

Parents should be able to trust that safety is paramount when educators take to the road with students. Yet it’s safe to say other adults engage in the same risky behavior.

They all should know better.

Every adult — educators, parents and others — should be setting an example for the younger set. Doing so could be a lifesaver.

The Garden City Telegram

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