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Kids score $5 when Mom text messages in car

My kids cured me of texting while driving.

If you really are serious about breaking that dangerous habit when your cell phone gives off its irresistible buzz, put a bounty on your head.

That's how I rid myself of the temptation to look at my Blackberry when it rattles in my cupholder, inviting me to check out this hilarious lawyer joke or that plea from the African prince to hide his millions for him.

It hit me that my kids may be little, but I have future drivers in the car and I need to set an example. So I gave them permission to call me on it, and if anyone catches me sending a text or responding to an e-mail while the car is in motion, they get $5. I've had to pay it only once.

Now, with five bucks in hand, my son is pouncing ruthlessly if I so much as glance at that Blackberry.

I am allowed to check it at red lights and send a text if I am stopped or if I pull over. But if the car is moving, my Text Patrol is on duty.

Sometimes my red-light queries turn up a text or an e-mail I want to respond to, so I hand the phone to my 11-year-old and say something like, "Text Daddy that we'll be home in 10 minutes. Does he need me to pick up anything?"

My kids now pester their aunts or other drivers not to look at their phones when driving. And they love to recount the recent tale of the Tampa teen who was a perfect storm of bad behaviors. Katelyn Blaylock skipped class at Freedom High to make a Taco Bell run. She was texting her boyfriend about a burrito order when she ran a red light and hit a car.

And not just any car, a police car!

I encourage you to tell this story to your kids. It's fortunate that no one was injured. If nothing else, poor Katelyn is now an object lesson in our car of what not to do while driving.

(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service