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opinions from the head lemur
[Posted] October 21, 2000

Cell Phones, Cars, and Responsibility

David Fiedler whose Refresh Daily Column I read regularly posted this,
You have the Right to Remain Silent.
He and I agree on a lot of the same things, but not this one.

I hate Cell Phones and almost everyone who owns one. The only exceptions are Emergency Personnel. Not only are they the people you need in an emergency, they are also trained to be able to "walk and chew gum" as you pointed out.
The only reason for their use is in emergency situations.

Does your job involve contact that will make the difference between Life or Death ? It the answer is yes, you should have one.

The rest of you should shut up, hang up and toss the damn things out the window. I watch you drive down the freeways at 60 miles an hour in a 2 ton car merrily having a conversation and wondering why people are honking at you, if you even bother to pay any attention to the world around you. I wait behind you at intersections, after the light has changed, because you are still on the phone.

David is incensed that Lawmakers are going to make it illegal for folks to drive their cars and talk on cell phones at the same time.

Tough!! An automobile is a device to get you between two points. It is not your living room, it is not your bathroom, a lunch counter, a concert hall, nor is it an extension of your sexual prowess, despite the millions of dollars of advertising by the auto makers to get you to believe that you have no life if you do not drive the new Sex Appeal 2001.

Automobile accidents are one of the leading causes of death and injury in the United States, and Driver Distraction is at the top of the list of causes.

Driver Distraction

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driver distraction has been cited as a major cause of motor vehicle crashes for several decades, with an estimated 25 percent of the 6.3 million crashes reported by police each year involving some form of driver distraction.

Citing 17 year olds as a poster child group for situational awareness is not your finest comparison. As a group they have the highest accident rates, the highest insurance costs and the lowest time behind the wheel. It is also why Graduated Licenses are being adopted by more states.

Understand that in every state in the country, a drivers license is not attached to your birth certificate, but must be applied for with a test and your behavior on the road is regulated. That is why they are called Privileges. Also, when your Privileges are suspended or revoked, you cannot get a license in another state.

In citing the study published in the New England Jounal of Medicine, this is not the only source of information nor is it the latest.

You summarise your argument with this nugget;

Perhaps some people know they couldn't drive safely themselves if they were on the phone, so they assume that nobody else can either. But that's a poor reason to pass laws criminalizing such conduct, absent specific proof of inattentive driving in a given instance. Unless, of course, someone has something to gain by doing so.

Just where are you going to find all these people willing to perform such a fearless self examination?

General Motors, the largest auto maker on the planet whose OnStarTM System which is a hands off system and one of the more intelligent things that any car producer has introduced since the three point seatbelt, is having second thoughts.

GM and Driver Distraction October 18, 2000
DETROIT -- General Motors Corp. today announced the creation of "SenseAble driving," a pioneering new safety initiative designed to help reduce the risk of driver distraction while enhancing vehicle technology and safety.

General Motors has a lot to gain. Keeping their butts out of court for one.

I have a lot to gain. I can improve my chances, my wife's chances and my childrens chances of being able to drive from point A to point B, without being involved in a collision because of some individuals idea of their self importance.

Besides David, legislation of this type may help you to drive to work so that you can write more columns that we can debate.

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