4:59 PM EST, December 15, 2011
For all of us cheering the National Transportation Safety Board’s call for a ban on hand-held cell phone calls and texts while driving, we might want to stop clapping and start calling (please not while driving), writing, e-mailing and just shouting to our neighbors to offer some support. It is one thing to make a common sense decision; it is another to make it the law of the land. Rest assured that powerful forces are already at work with a slew of lobbyists and millions of dollars to make sure this never happens. Had the NTSB done this say fifteen years ago maybe we would have a fighting chance, but the use of cell phones by drivers has become so commonplace that I am afraid it has become a terrifying part of the landscape. And that landscape is very dangerous.
Let me tell you about some of my recent run-ins. Not for a minute do I think they are unusual.
Last week I am driving north on Ironwood Drive in South Bend. In the left lane a car is dawdling along a good ten miles under the speed limit and very erratic. Even from behind I could tell it was an elderly driver, so I say to myself, just be patient. I turn into a parking lot and I’ll be darned if the other driver does as well. He was still talking on the phone when he ran over the curb. Now tell me, exactly what was the importance of that call?
Just a week earlier, and one block from my house a car comes within inches of t-boning me after running a stop sign. To her credit, as our cars are nose-to-nose, the driver rolls down her window and apologizes for not paying attention. I already knew that since she was still holding the cell phone in her hand.
And last summer I am on the Toll Road in that area with three lanes as you get to pay the final toll before the Skyway. In the left (passing) lane is a car about 20 miles under the limit. Finally I decide to pass on the right, which I don’t like to do, and I look over and the young woman was clearly, and feverishly texting. Now I am really ticked off but at least I am by her. Or so I thought. Suddenly she zooms by me around 80 miles an hour, and pulls into the I-Zoom pay only lane. Guess the last laugh was on me. She did not have an I-Zoom pass and the poor folks behind her were really ticked off.
Maybe some of this seems funny but the overwhelming body of statistics is not funny. People are dying and families are being shattered. The NTSB is leaving an allowance for emergency calls, which can be easily be proved. The rest of those calls are frivolous and unnecessary.
Let people of common sense get together and stop this present-day stupidity.
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