Cell Phones

by Virgil Soule. 0 Comments

Having seen drivers blow through red lights while chatting on their cell phones, not once but on three occasions, I think it’s about time they were outlawed. I could give other examples: Like the time I watched a woman muscle a big pickup through a left turn at an intersection left-handed while holding a cell phone to her ear with the other hand. At the moment I was glad I wasn’t in front of her. Their use by drivers has been outlawed in England for a decade at least. We Americans have needed a little more time apparently, to realize that cell phone use degrades driver performance. Personally, I think the ban is way overdue.   The issue is driver distraction – not how many hands are on the steering wheel. It’s a question of being prepared for emergencies – even minor ones. Of course, cell phone use isn’t the only source of driver distraction, but it’s probably the most persistent and wide-spread. During my commutes down I-270, I’ve seen drivers eating cereal from a bowl and women applying makeup. In fact, drivers have done some amazing things on the road and have managed to retain control of their vehicles.   Every now and then I’ll see a "Mr. Cool" type driving along – usually in a big pickup – with right arm draped over the back of the passenger seat and left hand draped over the steering wheel at the wrist. This is a form of driver distraction that would eat up milliseconds in an emergency. But when Mr. Cool is engrossed in a cell phone conversation with his girl friend, he’s liable to be out of touch with the current situation. This is not the way to highway safety, folks.   I’ve heard rumors of people having sex at 100 mph on the Interstate – adds to the thrill of the moment I suppose. It takes a little doing but I’m told it’s physically possible. Whether this is the ultimate driver distraction is probably debatable, however. Falling asleep at the wheel might claim that distinction.   It will probably take a long time to legislate and educate away driver stupidity but we have to start somewhere and banning cell phone use is a good place to start. Another thing to consider is requiring drivers to retake at least the written exam every time they renew their licenses. A refresher on the rules of the road every five years would certainly be beneficial for promoting highway safety.

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