A wise man once said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing”.
On Monday, the Board of Alderman approved an ordinance amending the Careful and Prudent Driving section of our City Code (Sec. 340.160). It states:
Section 340.160. Manner of Operation of Motor Vehicles — Careful and Prudent.
A. Every person operating a motor vehicle on the highways of this City shall drive the vehicle in a careful and prudent manner and at a rate of speed so as not to endanger the property of another or the life or limb of any person and shall exercise the highest degree of care.
B. It shall be prima facie evidence that a vehicle operator is not exercising the highest degree of care if the operator of a moving vehicle engages in any conduct that causes his or her vision or attention to be obscured, diminished or directed elsewhere than the path of travel or safe operation of the vehicle, including, but not limited to, by using a mirror to engage in grooming; reading anything located in the vehicle other than operation information displayed on vehicle gauges and equipment; writing; drawing; manually imputing information into a GPS or mapping device; or turning one’s head substantially away from the path of travel to observe things in the vehicle or outside the vehicle but contrary to the path of travel.
Section (B) was approved on Monday. Here’s the main thing. This ordinance was amended to educate those who choose to distract themselves while driving, therefore, not watching the road. The biggest issue here is the pervasive use of phones to read messages and text while driving. That is the Main Thing. We have all seen the driver weaving in traffic, driving 15 MPH on Brentwood Blvd. or sitting at the light ten seconds after it turns green because they are reading a message or e-mail.
The other things mentioned in the ordinance are to educate the public as to what can distract you while driving. It was put in the ordinance because we all see it occur. To report that officers will be stopping motorists for grooming or turning in their seat is like a football coach giving his team a scouting report that mainly focuses on how to contain the third string quarterback. It’s not the main thing.
This law was enacted because we see motorists every day endangering the lives of others by distracting themselves at the wheel. A few weeks ago, I stopped at the stop sign on my street. A pick-up truck approaching the intersection drove right thru the stop sign. His cellphone was illuminated at 12 o’clock on his steering wheel. He never saw the stop sign, and he certainly never saw my vehicle.
The main thing is that we are trying to make the streets safer for all. It is everyone’s responsibility to pay attention to the road when you drive.
Let’s all be careful out there.