Thursday, December 17, 2009

Driven To Distraction

I think cell phone use (whether for chatting or -- heaven forfend -- texting) while driving should be banned. Seriously.

Why? Allow me to illustrate with a little people-watching exercise.

I work in downtown Des Moines, which is connected by a fairly extensive skywalk system. In effect, it's an elevated ant farm for corporate cubicle drones like myself. At about noon every day, several massive companies disgorge their hordes of employees into this network of glorified hallways for lunch, and many of those employees immediately take up their personal cell phones for a chat or a text.

And I've noticed that when people are using their phones for whatever purpose, they are ENTIRELY INCAPABLE OF WALKING IN A STRAIGHT LINE AT A NORMAL SPEED. Watch for yourself sometime. If you're in a large crowd where a lot of people are using phones, chances are you'll get a full-body check (or at least a near miss) from one of these distracted walkers.

Knowing those odds, I don't think I'm being unreasonable to expect that these same people should NOT operate a half-ton of horsepower while using their phones. The full-body check on foot isn't so bad; heck, if you're paying attention, you can plant your feet and "accidentally" put someone on their tuchus (not that I would do such a thing, of course). But if I'm on the bike and that person is doing S-curves down a straight road in a friggin' Hummer while tapping out OMGs and LOLs, I'm toast.

(Hypocrite alert: I will sometimes answer my phone while riding the bike. You may fling rotten virtual tomatoes at me now.)


Anonymous said...

I think that anyone who is honest would agree with you. How many different studies have been done that equate cell phone use while driving with having a blood alcohol level of 0.08%?

The only issues are:
1) most people are quite happily in denial about their bad behavior
2) politicians won't pass a law to restrict dangerous behavior until it is painfully obvious that something has to be done.

So what can the average Joe (or Jason) do about this? My guess is that it'll take an organization like MADD to really raise hell. A good start might be to make some videos of the folks impaired by cell phone use and post it to youtube. A well done video could get a lot of publicity and make people sympathetic to your point of view.

I look forward to viewing your video soon. :-)

Steve in Peoria

essjay said...

It is amazing how people just loose it when that phone goes to their ear, isn't it? I had a friend killed in a car accident because the driver of the other car was sending a text message. Both drivers were killed but thank goodness the 5 children in the 2 cars were not hurt.

I understand that we have little time these days (a blog post for another day) so talking on the phone in the car is helpful but not when it puts peoples lives in danger. Especially in bad weather - I can't believe the number of people on cell phones when the roads are a mess.