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     Phubbing: The practice of snubbing others in favor of our mobile phones. – The Washington Post

Lawmakers in Pierre are considering toughening up the penalty for texting while driving.

At present, the violation is a petty offense, but if HB 1230 passes, the penalty steps up to a Class 2 misdemeanor and changes enforcement from secondary to primary.

The difference is worth pondering. A petty offense is a parking ticket or a speeding violation, the lowest level of criminal behavior.  If you are found guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor – a midrange offense – you may get jail time, as well as a fine. Changing the enforcement from secondary to primary means you can be stopped for the violation by itself. Secondary, as with a seat belt violation, requires that another infraction be observed first.

This bill deserves passage. How many times have you seen drivers looking down at their devices while passing on the interstate? On more than one occasion, the driver drifted into my lane and nearly caused an accident.

Or, a driver is so immersed at what’s on his cell phone at a red light that he doesn’t see the light change, and then is irritated when someone honks at him to pay attention.

Cell phones don’t just pose a danger on the highway. San Diego State University researchers determined that the more time teens spent on their phones, the more unhappy they were. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?  However, the study, based on surveys with more than a million teens, found that those who engaged in heavy screen use, be it playing games, surfing the web or using social media, were less happy than those who spent more time in face-to-face activities.

There is still another downside, though less serious. Cell phone users can be rude.

Recently a reader of this column contacted me and asked if I knew about “phubbing.”  I had not, but here is how the Washington Post defines it:

“Phubbing is the practice of snubbing others in favor of our mobile phones. We’ve all been there, as either victim or perpetrator. We may no longer even notice when we’ve been phubbed (or are phubbing), it has become such a normal part of life. However, research is revealing the profound impact this sort of snubbing can have on our relationships and well-being.”

Well! I thought. Yes, I have been phubbed. And likely, so have you.

The only conclusion I can draw from this is that A, cell phones can be dangerous; B, cell phones can hinder relationships; and C, a course on cell phone etiquette is sorely needed in today’s society. I’ll be contacting my lawmaker in Pierre.

Feb. 7, 2018