Tuesday, January 20, 2009

For gawd's sake, just pull over

Anyone who knows me well has heard me bitch repeatedly about people (mainly women, sorry) who insist on jabbering on their cell phones while driving. A Pennsylvania state lawmaker is currently seeking a ban on use of hand-held cell phones behind the wheel, and the National Safety Council went even further, calling for a ban on use of all cell phones – even hands-free models – while driving. I applaud them both, but I doubt either will succeed, because a large segment of Americans seem to be joined at the hip with their cell phones, Blackberries, etc. I also have to take issue with an editorial that appeared over the weekend in the Observer-Reporter that contends the National Safety Council proposal goes too far. The editorial stated that “there’s a difference between making a quick call and chatting for a half-hour with one hand holding a phone and the other hand on the wheel.” No, there isn’t. It only takes a split-second of paying attention to getting someone on the phone, instead of the road ahead, for a deadly accident to take place. The editorial also said that “if a phone conversation takes your attention away from the road, so also does talking with a passenger.” That statement ignores studies that have found talking on a cell phone, whether hand-held or hands-free, results in a much greater deficit of attention than talking with someone in the seat next to you, who also happens to be able to help the driver notice travel hazards they might encounter. Some say that a cell-phone ban amounts to a furtherance of the “nanny state” approach, in which government tries to protect us from all dangers, whether we want them to or not. But I have to ask those who favor a laissez-faire approach: Do you also want to allow people to be drunk behind the wheel and drive as fast as they desire? Cell phone use by drivers is a significant threat to you and me. A state police report from 2007 found that hand-held cell phones were a factor in more than 1,200 accidents across the state. Even if we pass on the ban on hands-free phones, if for no other reason than it would be nearly impossible to enforce, we should do the right thing and make it a crime to use a hand-held phone behind the wheel. The bottom line is this: Is it really asking too much for someone to pull over if they have a call they absolutely must make while traveling? Or is it really that you just want to chat with your gal pal? I’ve lived 50 years without a cell phone (I hope to never own one), and I’ve managed to struggle by in my daily life. You should try it. Just put the thing down on the ground and stomp the hell out of it. Free yourself!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was driving back here on the Ohio Turnpike after Christmas, a car ahead of me was driving much slower than other cars and weaving around. Guess what? The dude was TEXTING while he was driving! Idiot...

--Brad Hundt

January 20, 2009 at 1:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The use of cell phones has made many people able to juggle business and family better.
It has made small business men, government officials and others more efficient.
Not surprising that those that are not in these positions believe they should be banned.
People do all sorts of crap when driving, we don't and should not ban those activities.
One of the main sources of the complaints come from those that hate the changes that come from technology (hence your own desire to live without a cell phone).
Trying owning your own business, running multiple organizations or juggling the demands of government before you bitch.
It is time for the anti-cell phone crowd to calm down.
As usual no one defends freedom, just more regulation on our lives and our choices.
Not surprising from those that supported bigger and bigger government.

January 20, 2009 at 3:33 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

In other words, you can't pull over for five minutes to transact your business, and if you have that many pressing details to handle while going from place to place, requiring multiple phone calls all along the way, your mind sure as heck isn't on your driving. You're a menace.

January 20, 2009 at 4:08 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

In other words, you can't pull over for five minutes to transact your business, and if you have that many pressing details to handle while going from place to place, requiring multiple phone calls all along the way, your mind sure as heck isn't on your driving. You're a menace.

January 20, 2009 at 4:08 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Sorry about the double post. My computer is, um, not good

January 20, 2009 at 4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love technology. But I'd rather have my wife talk to me when she came home than have her plow head on into a semi while she was talking to me on the cell and trying to read signs. we seemed to run business just fine before cellphones and e-mail. we seemed to keep in touch with friend and family before telephones. And I do defend freedom -- your freedom to wrap yourself around a utility pole while taking on a cell. But not your freedom to rear-end me because you looked down to dial.

January 20, 2009 at 5:32 PM  
Anonymous Erik said...

I think there should be special roads for people who want to talk on the phone while driving, text while driving, not wear a seatbelt in the car, or not wear a helmet on a motorcycle. Sort of like an HOV lane for stupid people. Let them kill each other. It's called thinning the herd, and it will make the world a safer place for those of us who have an ounce of common sense.

January 20, 2009 at 6:28 PM  
Blogger Richard Dirt said...


Bishes need to just get off the phone, back into the kitchen

January 21, 2009 at 1:00 AM  
Blogger Richard Dirt said...

omg, Erik!

I didn't read your comment until after I'd already posted the "too long and windy" comment...

But seriously, you're idea is top notch. I would love a separate lane/roads for cell-phone talkers!

I can't believe that we haven't done this already. Seriously, I mean, if you want to glip about public policy, paving a separate side road beside all of the already existent roads is a surefire solution.

This whole time, I've been reading people debate back and forth, when there was this completely obvious solution? I mean, I totally have an ounce of common sense, which is why I think that this plan is stellar.

I'm all about killing off the weak and silly, as well....Let only us smart commenters repopulate the "herd", amirite? Darwin?

So, when did you want to get together and make super smart, troubleshooting babies? I'm generally good Thursdays, after 6...

January 21, 2009 at 1:07 AM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

I hate being behind a cell phone user at a red light. They get so wrapped up in dialing or whatever that they don't notice the light changed and they sit there.

I certainly don't hate the changes that come with technology. I welcome them. However, I choose not to have a cell phone. I don't need one. So many people whine about not having enough time to do everything, that they can never "disconnect." A ringing phone is a reminder that someone is trying to get in touch with you. It's not an obligation. There's always voice mail. When people have to be asked in movie theaters and even church services to turn off their phones, then it's gone too far. I've seen people at the gym at 5:30 in the morning talking on a cell phone. What is so important that it has to be settled right then and there?

I think it's a great idea to ban them while driving. Just pull over. If the business at hand is that important, wouldn't you want to be parked so you could make sure you handled everything right? It's a minor inconvenience, and as we have discussed so many times on this blog, there are too many people who don't want to be inconvenienced. Boo hoo.

January 21, 2009 at 12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My boss once called me on his cellphone while he was driving to work. Every once in while, he seemed distracted.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"Checking my e-mail."

He had his laptop set up on the apssenger seat wand was trying to scroll through old e-mails while driving and talking.

What a loon.

January 22, 2009 at 1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a widow with a special needs child, an elderly parent that I take care of and a full time job. I take my cell phone with me everywhere. BUT, if I'm driving in the car...I don't answer it! I live in a frontier area in the northwest. I'll pull into a rest stop or onto a side road and THEN I'll check the phone. There was a funeral here a few weeks ago and during the service, several cell phones rang. If I'm in a meeting, at an event, hospital or restaurant, I turn off the ringer. Richard is right, it just takes common sense. Sometimes there are emergencies but, the world hasn't ended because I didn't answer the call immediately. Washington state has a ban on hand held cell phone use while driving. I hope more states follow.

January 22, 2009 at 8:18 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Thanks for your comments. I have heard cell phones go off in church, in movie theaters, darn near everywhere. But a funeral? Now that's just rude and thoughtless. But as a friend at work said to me the other day, with some people, it's like, "Look at me, I just got a cell phone call. I'm important!" No, you're not. When 90 percent of the populace, including little kids, has and uses something, the bloom is off the rose.

January 22, 2009 at 9:12 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Also, you must be a pretty strong person to handle the needs of your child, a dependent parent and a full-time job. Makes the things I bitch about sometimes seem pretty inconsequential. You're to be commended.

January 22, 2009 at 9:14 PM  

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