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Aspen Gone Wild: Just Say No to Drexting

Jamie Lynn Miller's picture

The Wild West just got a little tamer. Not that Aspen has ever been the reckless, outlaw capital of Colorado but truly, curtailing the use of handheld electonics while driving around Aspen may well be the equivalent of asking Wyatt Earp and crew to surrender their weapons when they roll into town.

But it happened. Colorado joins North Carolina, most recently, in banning texting while driving. A $50 fine for first time offenders in Colorado, $100 for the next violation; the bill originally called for a ban on all cell-phone behavior including calling and texting but it got watered down, resulting in an all ages text ban and a talking and text ban for those 18 and under.

I think they missed the boat on that one; does being a legal adult really mean you can handle driving while talking on the cell phone? Ever drive behind someone going 34 in the left lane in mid-July, who veers towards the middle line every now and then when the conversation gets really good? It’s not one of those crazy kids; it’s probably you or someone you know.

Like me. I long ago decided that I drive like an idiot when I’m on the cell phone so believe it or not, I usually pull over for actual conversations, landline style. Kickin’ it old school payphone-like.

I’m frequently proud of my home state, California, for their cutting edge legislation: they were among the first – if not the very first – to ban smoking in bars and restaurants and cell-phone talking while driving was banned years ago. My sister called once and midday way through the conversation she cut me off, in a loud stage whisper: “Oh yikes gotta go there’s a cop-“ thunk. Phone on floor. Talk about a dropped call.

But while I just say no to excessive cell-phoning while driving, I am totally, colossally guilty of texting while driving.

And I must say, I’ve gotten pretty good at it.

“Drexting” is like a lot of motor skills, it’s really about muscle memory; most of the time I’m not really even looking at the keys because my thumb remembers how many taps will get me to t and h and i and I even know how to scroll through the symbols to build my own smiley face without peeking. the phone.

And there are the other times where I become a stickler for punctuation and whaddaya know, I’m straddling the middle line and thank goodness no one’s in the next lane. Something about texting appeals to me, maybe a soft spot for the written word, but I admit that I have a problem; and now that I’ve taken that first step, I welcome the some supervision.

South Carolina has a proposal on the table, to enforce a $2500 fine, 2 months in jail and a suspended driver’s license if you’re caught texting or emailing while driving, all on the first offense. It’s just a proposal but wow. I’m impressed. In the meantime, drexting is now illegal in Colorado. And I’m ok with that.

How about texting while drinking? That seems almost as harmful as texting while driving; maybe moreso. Ever check your Sent box after the big Holiday Party? Or around noon, on New Year’s Day? Happy New Year! Not.

Sometimes I have a flashback, a vivid airbrushed Little House on the Prairie moment, of life before cell phones. I remember that the world still worked: business still got transacted, wars were still fought, plans were made and pictures were taken and true, you made a really long grocery list before Pa went to town so he wouldn’t forget anything but really, I’m struck by all the time I had to kill waiting for friends, waiting in airports or driving for hours, without turning to my cell phone every time it buzzes. What did I think about? I can’t remember.

Let me check my Sent box.