Now I know many Missourians think you have it bad ever since the text messaging law went into effect last summer. But Illinois, my friends, is a whole different ball game.
One night, while driving home from the city after a night out with some friends, who else but a Chicago police officer pulls me over while stopped at a red light. And why was I pulled over? Two words: cell phone.
It was brought to my attention that night that the city of Chicago prohibits the use of a mobile device while operating a motor vehicle, PERIOD. Not only are drivers banned from placing or accepting calls without a hands-free device, but they are also restricted from composing or reading messages. These messages can be instant messages, text messages and even emails and Internet content.
Although I was annoyed with being stopped for a cell phone violation, the truth is that I try not to make a habit of using my phone in any way while driving. It is rather distracting.
I must admit that Missouri's new text messaging law somewhat bothers me simply because it only applies to those 21 and under. However, after being stopped I now understand that the true goal behind it is to make Missouri roads safer. Who can truly argue with that?
No matter how mad I must have been after receiving a ticket for using my cell phone, looking back on the experience, I am happy that I did. This year, the National Safety Council reported that 3 percent of all traffic accidents could be caused by texting. This year alone Missouri has experienced about 562 traffic accidents caused by cell phone use.
These numbers are pretty serious and I certainly do not want to contribute to them in any way. And as much as it pains me to see past the irritation that texting and other traffic laws may bring, it made me feel better to think that one less person texting while driving could save one, two or even three more lives.