Much has been made of the impending Ohio legislation regarding texting-while-driving. The talking heads make it sound like cutting edge lawmaking. Meanwhile, many states have long forbidden the use of cell phones not only for texting, but even for talking while operating a vehicle, something I agree with wholeheartedly because I don't want to be killed by a distracted driver.
I was driving west on Hyde Road a couple weeks ago when a large pickup coming towards me pulled over into my lane for no apparent reason. We were the only cars on the road. There was no shoulder; no place to go to get out of harm's way. I slowed and started beeping my horn. He kept coming. Finally, about 50 - 100 yards ahead of me, the driver looked up from whatever he was doing, saw me, and pulled back into his own lane. As he passed me, he leaned on his horn as if to indicate that I was at fault in some way. Had he fallen asleep at the wheel? Had he been texting? I'll never know, but I'm sure he has no appreciation for how close the both of us came to dying that day.
Now the federal government is making noise about stepping in and prohibiting cell phone use in any fashion while driving, even hands free. Hallelujah! I'll bet the cell phone lobbyists are gearing up right now.
Something to confide here... I too have been guilty of talking on my cell phone while driving. As much as I hate the sight of someone making a left turn in traffic with a cigarette in one hand and a cell phone held to their ear with the other, I have succumbed to the temptation to answer my phone while driving. It is hard to resist. I have never initiated a call from the driver's seat. But, the thought that there might be an emergency, has almost always caused me to answer my phone when I have been driving alone. It never has been an emergency. It has always been more like, "Honey, can you pick up a quart of milk on your way home?" If someone else is in the car with me, I ask them to answer it for me. If I call someone and they mention that they are driving, I tell them I will call back later.
One great piece of advice I have heard is to turn your cell phone off before you get in the car. The problem is to remember to do it. I never do. You might try linking the action to hooking up your seat-belt. You do wear seat-belts don't you..?
Meanwhile, our lives will continue to be at risk while the lawmakers haggle. And even after laws are passed, there will be enforcement problems. There will always be that nitwit who thinks he or she just has to be in constant contact. I guarantee that nothing they are talking about is worth risking my life or the lives of my loved ones.
Bruce Cornett sent me the link to this video. It's a promotion for a school program, but contains lots of interesting statistics. Beware of the gory scenes...
* A reader corrected on the original version of this:
As of Oct. 7, 2009, Ohio’s children are required to use belt-positioning booster seats once they outgrow their child safety seats (usually at 4 years old and 40 pounds) until they are 8 years old, unless they are at least 4 feet, 9 inches (57 inches) tall.
Ohio’s revised child restraint law requires the following:
- Children less than 4 years old or 40 pounds must use a child safety seat.
- Children less than 8 years old, unless they are at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall must use a booster seat.
- Children ages 8-15 must use a child safety seat or safety belt.
Fines will range from a minimum of $25 to a maximum of $75 per occurrence.
Apparently it only took until 2009 for Ohio to catch up with the rest of the country.