The Northwest Times reported that Rosemary Quiñones, a mother of five who lives in East Chicago, Indiana, was inspired to take action to support the texting while driving law after her autistic 6-year-old son nearly got hit by a car. She realized that her son might have been killed if the driver had been distracted by a text message, since the car stopped just inches shy of the boy.
But while most citizen crusades against societal dangers are prompted by tragedy, such as a DUI fatality or sexual assault, Rosemary Quiñones hopes Indiana will follow the lead of neighboring Illinois by outlawing texting while driving.
Illinois banned the sending or reading of text messages while driving on Jan. 1, which some say is often just as impairing as alcohol intoxication. Distracted driving penalties in Illinois are not quite as severe as a DUI, but it may only be a matter of time before Chicago DUI lawyers start taking on such cases.
For now, offenders are stopped and ticketed if caught.
A similar ban on texting while driving next door in Indiana has failed to make it out of the state Senate, even though it passed the Indiana House on Feb. 2 by the wide margin of 95-3. Indiana State Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago, said he was "perplexed" that the bill did not pass.
But he said the Illinois ban on texting while driving, as explained in a Chicago Daily Herald article, should help grease the skids for a similar law in Indiana once it's reintroduced:
"If we can enforce a seat belt law, we can enforce a no-texting-and-driving one."
Rosemary Quiñones, meanwhile, holds the memory of her son's near-accident to heart as she works to force lawmakers in Indiana to enact a ban. She was able to convince her local councilman to take part in the effort and has reached out to local schools as well. She also is collecting signatures from Indiana University Northwest students pledging to abstain from texting while driving:
"I'm not Oprah, but I realized that we have to do something to protect our children, to speak for the children who could not speak for themselves."
Chicago talk show host Oprah Winfrey has used her fame to campaign against the use of cell phones while driving.
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