, Port Arthur, Texas

March 19, 2013

Business owner uses sign to oppose texting while driving

Erinn Callahan
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — Supporters of a statewide ban on texting while driving are gaining momentum — and one Nederland man is using his business to convey his feelings on the matter.

A sign outside American Lawn Service — located just off Twin City Highway in Port Arthur — reads, “What’s the difference between DWI and texting while driving? Jail.”

“I would rather be on the road with a drunk driver,” said owner Doug Salinas, who has spent the past 30 years working for the company alongside his father, Joe. “At least they’re watching the road.”

The current law in Texas prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from texting or using a cell phone while driving, as well as school bus operators and any drivers in school zones. However, with text messages accounting for 20 percent of all fatal automobile crashes and increasing the likelihood of an accident by 400 percent, Salinas doesn’t believe that suffices — and he is not alone.

“People have called me on the sign and said, ‘I agree with you. When you’re not paying attention while you’re driving, you might as well be drunk,’” Salinas said. “They should make some kind of penalty, and not just in a school zone.”

Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, has sponsored a bill seeking a statewide ban on texting while driving. But a similar bill was vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry in 2011, and Salinas doesn’t believe Craddick’s luck will be any better.

“When a police officer’s daughter gets hurt or killed, then they’ll probably do something about it,” he said. “But if it’s just a regular person on the street, nothing’s going to happen.”

Salinas and his father offer pressure washing in addition to lawn maintenance — from outhouses to parking lots to cemeteries — but he also hopes to use his business to get more messages out.

“Every day I wake up, I see less and less of the country I grew up in,” he said. “I’m just trying to remember the past.”

Contact Salinas at 543-2552.


Twitter: @ErinnPA