If you get caught texting and driving, do you know how much it can cost you?

It's a scary thought.  More than half of drivers around us on the road admit to texting and driving, instead of paying attention to our need to pass, merge, or slow down to turn.  Texas has had a texting and driving ban for a while now, but it hasn't put a stop to it.

I mean, we all see it.  We'll be setting at a light and when we look over at the driver next to us, they're texting, posting, or doomscrolling while they wait for the 2-minute light to change.  More than half of drivers admit to texting and driving, especially when they're alone in the car.  Even if we're just picking up the phone to make a hands-free call, we might see a text that we feel compelled to answer real quick.  No one is immune.

The idea of a text hangover really shocked me.  It's how long your mind stays distracted even after you put the phone down, and there is no escaping it.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety said drivers can experience a hangover effect that keeps the mind occupied for up to 27 seconds after using a device to send text messages, make phone calls or update social media.  It could be a smartphone or it could be voice-to-text, but either way, it adds 27 seconds to our distracted driving problems.

Jacksonville has a law banning texting and driving with fines of up to $500.  In Longview, it's a fine of $25 to $99 for a first offense.  And it's not okay anywhere in Texas since state lawmakers passed a law in 2017 that made the use of smartphones illegal behind the wheel when they're used to send text messages and emails.

I doubt that anyone starts out on a mission determined to text and drive, but once the phone dings and begs to be checked, fingers and eyes get sucked in in a hurry.  I love the City of Boise's advice to let the passenger be the designated texter.  And if the driver is alone, well, that takes some willpower.

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