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Cell Phones & Other Driving Distractions

The debate over cell phone use in automobiles rages on. Should people use cell phones while driving? The proponents say the busy lifestyle requires it. The opponents say safety comes first. Meantime, accidents happen and lawmakers test the political winds to see where they stand. But the debate is over the wrong issue.

This debate is an easy to decide. There is no dispute humans can do only one thing at a time. When we look forward, happenings in our peripheral vision go un-noticed. One thing at a time applies. If we listen to the radio, we cannot easily hear sirens or horns, not because the volume is too high but because we are using our listening skills for music, not traffic. Remember, one thing at a time. Even checking the rearview mirrors means we may not notice what is happening in front of us in time to avoid an accident. Think also about the loud music heard literally from city to country. Since the music does not allow the driver to hear emergency sounds, it is in the same category as cell phone use. And did you ever see a carload of people, conversing with each other, the driver turning his head toward the other occupants to talk? Since we know humans can do only one thing at a time, the real debate is how much death and destruction are we willing to allow in the name of our fast paced and free society.

I watch The Learning Channel. In England they have recognized the dangers of distracted drivers. Unmarked camera cars patrol high traffic areas looking for distracted drivers. The penalty is not only a stiff fine, but driving record points and insurance rate increases. It is not only amazing what drivers do behind the wheel, but how the problems they cause impact many innocent drivers. While I do not advocate unmarked camera cars, I do advocate the police use whatever laws are available to ticket the worst offenders. In Virginia where I was raised, the police routinely ticketed people for swerving dangerously across centerline or off the pavement onto the shoulder. Items hanging from the rearview mirror were not allowed because the swing motion rendered the driver’s peripheral worthless. Over the years, these offences and many like them went away. Now Virginia says there are no laws against the things distracted drivers do. In many cases that may be true, but to others I say, “Bull”. Would any politically correct law enforcement officer ticket a prominent person for using a cell phone, even if an accident was ALMOST caused? We all know the answer to that question.

Many laws concerning what we do, not why we do it, are already on the books and enforceable. Start enforcing them! If other laws are needed, enact them. The price paid is already too high.

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o. dell