I know that this is a horse I’ve ridden before, but I’m going to ride it again. What I’m talking about is the use of cell phones, or worse, texting while driving.
Washington state Governor Gregoire recently signed into law a bill that makes it a primary offense to be caught driving with a cell phone to your ear, or to be reading, writing or sending text messages.
That law takes effect in June.
It’s been a long time coming but, unfortunately, it still allows the use of “hands-free” (see also: brain in other places) devices.
What brought me back to this topic was an article that appeared last week in this newspaper. That article pointed out that drivers could get a ticket for pulling onto the shoulder of a major freeway in order to either take or make a cell phone call.
The intention, it was noted, may be good, but the shoulder of a freeway is a dangerous place to be at any time. Hence the ticket for stopping there for reasons other than an emergency.
So, as regards the new law and to review the bidding on using cell phones while driving, here are some things to consider:
We know that, while driving, you’re directing the movement of an object weighing several thousands of pounds and carrying a boatload of energy.
We know that it’s a bad idea to transfer all of that energy to another vehicle, a tree, a telephone pole, a sign, a bridge abutment, or – worst case – another human being.
We know through various studies that talking on a cell phone while driving puts you on par with those who are driving under the influence because you’re distracted and not paying full attention to the matter at hand.
We know (because we’ve had to avoid you) that you tend to wander in and out of your lane and that your speed varies while you explain whatever it is you’re explaining to the party on the other end of the phone.
And we know that those of you who text while drivng are an order of magnitude worse.
It’s a given that many of you who use your cell phone while driving believe to a near certainty that you’re that special human being who can be fully aware of what’s going on around you while you’re completely immersed in a conversation with someone else.
The thing is, the rest of us would rather not bet our lives on something that may not be as sure a bet as you think it is.
Rather, what we believe is that you’re a danger. That you’re someone who could – granted, unintentionally – maim or kill yourself, those in your vehicle, or others in the vehicle or vehicles near you.
All of this could happen simply because you wanted to be “in touch.” So that you could pass on some bit of information that couldn’t wait another few minutes until you could find a safe place to stop and talk.
So, here’s a suggestion from an admitted technical Neanderthal. From someone who has the cheapest cell phone that can be purchased. From someone who doesn’t always turn it on. From someone who’s been known to let it go dead. From someone who is simply tired of avoiding you.
Regardless of what you may think, the sun will set tomorrow, the tides will continue to rise and fall, the galaxy will continue on its appointed path, and chocolate will remain the best flavored ice cream even if you miss, don’t make, or ignore a call while driving.
So, with all of this in mind, why not use the time in your car to get away from the constant stream of blather that’s out there. To be alone with your thoughts. To look at the scenery. To take in the weather. To just relax and drive.
And, if none of that appeals to you, why not simply pay attention to the fact that any mistake you make while driving can have consequences that are immeasurably worse than missing whatever call you believed to be more important at the time.
In short, why not take the time to give the rest of us a break because we already have enough to deal with while we’re on the road.
It’d sure save us all a lot of trouble and, as an added benefit, allow you to duck that new ticket.