Too many motorists - young people especially, it seems - see nothing wrong with "texting" while they are behind the wheel. Wheeling Police Sgt. Ron Didion is right: That is driving while "intexticated," and it is dangerous.
Didion's play on words is a take-off on "inebriated," another condition that makes drivers hazards to themselves and other motorists. There are laws against driving while under the influence of alcohol. But using a cellular telephone to send text messages - not just taking one or both hands off the wheel to do so, but also paying attention to the task rather than the road - is not prohibited by state law. Only those still driving on learner's permits face any sanctions, and the fine against them is limited to $25.
The danger of "texting" or even of talking on a cell phone while holding it in one hand instead of having both hands on the wheel, is obvious. Driving requires attentiveness at all times. Certain situations require extreme concentration and both hands on the wheel. One never knows when that will happen.
We agree with Didion that state law should prohibit use of cell phones by drivers, except for devices that can be used while keeping one's hands on the wheel. A bill in the state Senate would establish such a ban. It carries a fine of as much as $100 for the first offense.
Driving while "intexticated" is as dangerous as some other behaviors that are illegal under existing law. Didion and others who want stiffer prohibitions against it are right. Legislators should approve the bill before them, and Gov. Joe Manchin should sign it into law.