Friday, May 08, 2009

Texting and Driving

Ruth Sheehan wrote a column in our local newspaper about Texting and Driving.

This is my reply to her column. I attempted to post the complete reply on the site, but it was truncated so I am publishing it in its entirety here.

Ruth Sheehan wrote of her desire to be free to text, apply make-up and eat while driving. It is her belief that to ban texting will allow for more of our personal habits to be attacked by our legislators and to allow the government's prying into our personal lives even more.

Until now, I have not noticed a Libertarian streak in her columns. She must be desperate to keep texting (and applying make-up) while driving available to all. I tend toward being a Libertarian, but once my actions begin to endanger others, that is when I must alter what I do. Unfortunately, the general public does not feel obligated to give up their cell phone use while driving and it is time for some laws to stop them from putting others' lives at risk.

May I ask, how many NRA gun carriers text while shooting? How many police officers text while pulling their gun? An automobile is no less a weapon than a gun. And not all multi-tasking goes well together.

In less than two days driving in Raleigh, I had to take evasive action to avoid serious accidents due to driver's texting or using cell phones. Yesterday my husband had to swerve out of our lane into another lane due to a phone user pulling out in front of us. It would have been a serious accident if he had not taken over half of the next lane and others had not given him the room. And I have no doubt that I would be either in the funeral home or in the hospital recovering from serious injuries. The same day we also witnessed a woman backing out of a parking space with a phone stuck to her ear. Four people walking had to step back quickly to avoid her and we had to stop in our vehicle. The driver never even realized we existed.

Using Ms. Sheehan's logic, I don't really know why we should have laws against driving while intoxicated. After all, some people can hold their liquor more than others. And it is only a few of these who may endanger others' lives. Cell phone use, both talking and texting, has become an addiction. And it can be just as dangerous when used while driving as an individual driving while drunk.

Ms. Sheehan, I am not buying that research that has been done by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center. I can drive down Capital Boulevard every day and see dozens of near misses of accidents and an occasional accident due to drivers using the cell phones. I don't know where UNC is doing its research, but it definitely is not on Capital Boulevard. My eyes tell me more than any research numbers do.

Vehicle insurance companies should make it a campaign to ban cell phone use while driving. They stand to benefit on more than one level. They should realize a better profit and also show their concern for their customers.

With the heavy traffic in Wake County, we need all of our attention to be focused on driving when behind the wheel. I suggest that we put down those cell phones. Eat before leaving or take time while stopped to enjoy the food. Keep the kids in the car seats and seat belts on. If they are acting out regardless of age, do as I did when my children were young. Pull over on the side of the road, cut off the car and instruct them that the car does not move until their behavior changes. This will only have to be done a couple of times in this hot summer weather before they get the message. Put the radio station on NPR 91.5 before starting the car. Don't worry about your make-up if you don't already have it on. Better to make it to your destination without it than to make it to heaven with perfect lipstick and mascara.

Bonus information for you. Read this article to see how people feel about bad drivers.

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