That’s it. I’ve officially decided. I’m supporting the initiatives to ban cell phone use while driving. Bluetooth, hands free, hand held or implanted in your skull — I want them all banned. I understand the convenience factor. I understand that we spend so much time in our cars that sometimes it is nearly unavoidable to have to receive or make a phone call while behind the wheel. But for a lot of people talking on the phone has become as much a part of driving as listening to the radio. Every morning I observe people get in their car, start the car, put on their seat belt and start dialing a phone number — and not always in that specific order. I see people pulling out of their subdivision, no more than 100 yards from their driveway, and already dialing a number. I know for a fact that these are not high powered executives trying to place their orders before the stock market opens. Come on! What exactly DO YOU have so important to discuss that it can’t wait until later?
A lot of research is being done on how talking on the cell phone impacts one’s driving ability. I believe that every word of these research is true. Driving and talking, from my personal experience, is worse than driving under the influence. To confirm that just observe driving patterns of vehicles around you. If you’re following a car, you can pretty much tell the moment the driver ahead of you gets on a call: the car slows down, the car start moving with less certainty than before — the overall behavior of the car changes completely the instance that call starts. I myself have had calls while driving where I had no recollection of how I arrived at my destination: I remember leaving the house, I’m in my office’s parking lot, but I don’t remember anything in between other than being on the phone. Freaky and scary, isn’t it? If I had that much to drink to the point of not being fully aware of my surroundings, I wouldn’t be driving. But a phone conversation is perfectly OK as long as I do hands free.
Have we become a nation of multi-taskers who are simply incapable of doing 1 thing at a time? Is piloting 2500 pounds of metal propelling down the highway at speeds unimaginable by average drivers only 30 years ago nowadays considered such a mundane task that our brains are in danger of decaying unless we give them the extra stimulation of a phone conversation? I would believe that, if we had no traffic accidents, but, since car accidents happen roughly every 1 second to the tune of 6 million incidents every year in the USA alone, I contend that we are still a long ways away from being good drivers.
Now, I don’t know how to truly enforce the no-talking-while-driving rule. I think a great deal will depend on drivers themselves recognizing how truly dangerous and irresponsible the whole thing is.
For myself, while I haven’t been able to completely eliminate talking on the phone while driving, I’ve been trying to reduce the overall number and duration of my calls. And if I do have to be on the call, I try to move over to the right and get the hell out of the other drivers’ way.
What do you think?