Saturday, July 18, 2009

Swear an Oath

I swear I will turn off my cellphone when I get in the car.

As much as I grumble about others using their cellphones while driving I use mine too -- kidding myself that it's safe because I have it tucked into the visor on speaker phone.

I read an article in the New York Times this evening that was a bit sobering. The article is called Drivers and Legislators Dismiss Cellphone Risk.

Read it. And better yet turn off your cellphone I guess. I know how easy it is to rationalize it being safe or necessary. A real time saving multitasking life extending invention. I've said those things. I don't believe them anymore. So I'll make a change.

I swear.


WaywardScooterGirl said...

Interesting that Hill evidently wasn't charged with vehicular homicide or some equivalent. Here in Washington State he likely would have been.

On the scooter, which I commute on 75% of the time, I always put my cell phone on silent and don't give it a second thought until I arrive at my destination. In the car, though, like you I'm not nearly as diligent. I'm not sure why I misguidedly feel like I need to pay attention LESS while driving my four wheeled vehicle. I've been better about putting the phone on silent while driving, but it needs to go from better to none at all.

I ditto your oath.

cpa3485 said...

About a month ago I pulled up to a stoplight behind a young man on a scooter. While stopped at the light he was talking on a cell phone. It was a relatively long light and I guess I assumed that as soon as the light changed, he would put the phone away and drive off. NOPE! He continued using the phone for 300 yards or so before he put it away.

SimplyTim said...


Good for you. Multitasking is NOT a life extender, it is a life shortener,AND while it appears to be more efficient and promises to give more satisfaction, it actually steals from quality of life.

Take a look at:

I ran an experiment on myself while on the cell phone while driving...hands down, my attention was on the conversation and not on the road and what was going on around me. And the worst of it all - the most dangerous part was while dialing on the cell phone...even if the number is on speed dial.

For Pete's did we get hijacked into this big rush lifestyle?


Rob said...

My fear is the dreaded "TEXT GOBLIN" cruising in a cage driving 70mph while writing WAR and Peace on their New SANYO Multi-Media Device. All of a sudden I am nothing but road grizzle when they run into my rear while stopped at a red light. New York State has a law against using a cell phone while driving. I guess that is one plus for living in the Empire State.

vic said...

To help remind myself of my own pledge to not engage in distractions while driving, I have painted the nail on my little finger of my left hand black. While riding or driving my phone is on vibrate and in the holster in my pocket. It will vibrate differently if I get a call, text or email and I can decide if it is something that I should pull over and deal with (texts for me get this treatment) or if it can wait until I arrive at my destination.
Why a black fingernail? In respect for Anita, a scooterist I never met who was killed because a distracted driver was painting her fingernails and did not see the intersection, with the red light, and the traffic stopped and waiting for that red light.

Distracted driving kills. Sure you can't legislate against stupidity, but you can outlaw foolish actions that have been proven to pose a risk to society-we function under these every day-seatbelts, child seats, drunk and impaired driving, graduated licensing, mandatory liability insurance... Those are all things that legislate intelligent and responsible choices.

Thank you for this post.


Joe said...

I'd love to read the N.Y. Times article, but don't want to go through a registration process no matter how short. (Nor do I want to accept cookies from them; I'm on a diet!)

- Joe at Scootin' da Valley

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Steve:

I have just finished a near steady 5 days of solid riding on a variety of road types, going to and coming from the BMW MOA Rally in Tennessee. I cannot tell you how many people I passed who were talking on the phone, texting, or reading mail (real snail mail).

I have to laugh when people get all nuts about introducing cell usage on planes, claiming it would destroy the last place on earth they can't be reached on the phone. Hell, there cars would become temples to solitude if they just switched off the phone.

Fondest regards,
Jack "reep" Toad

irondad said...

Cell phones are a big distraction, for sure. I just think we need to broaden the subject. Why not turn on the key, then CONCENTRATE ON DRIVING?

I find it so frustrating dealing with symptoms when the real sickness is that people just don't take responsibility for themselves, anywhere, let alone driving. How do we fix that?

projecta1 said...

Very good blog this one
Cell phones are a distraction mean while you´are driving.. in Argentina where I live cell phones are not allowed when driving cars.

Unfortunately just a few take care of the normative rest keep cell phonning


Steve Williams said...

WaywardScooterGirl: It's a hard habit to break in the car in part because cars seem so "safe". It's like I'm perfectly shielded and in control. But so far so good. No cellphone use in the car.

cpa3485: Talking while riding seems nuts to me but I guess not to everyone. I was looking at a Honda Goldwing that had all sorts of built in communications devices. Maybe I'm just not coordinated enough.

Seriously though I think the same impairment denial at work with drinkers works with cellphone users. You just don't believe anything is wrong and nothing bad will happen.

Steve Williams said...

SimplyTim: You noted correctly how dialing a cellphone can be bad. It takes time away from the road to do things and even a moment can be disaster.

My life does seem hijacked my rush at times. I have to fight to get off that road.

Rob: Text Goblin. That's a great picture. I predict more states will ban cell phone use while driving but I wonder how they will enforce it?

Steve Williams said...

vic: It sounds as if you have considered this issue carefully. I've not had many problems with incoming calls because I largely ignore them. It's me making calls that's the problem. Thankfully, I can make a decision to not use the phone.

For me the cellphone issue is much more important than helmet issues. It has a direct effect on my safety.

Joe: I emailed you the article. Please tell us what bad stuff is going to happen from reading the NY Times. I'm assuming this is a technical risk and not a political one....*grin*

Steve Williams said...

Jack Riepe: I think you should begin promoting a big "Turn Off the Phone" event. A national thing.

Seriously though you have said it right. All we need do is turn the thing off once in awhile. We're not all surgeons on call. What can be that important that we need to be instantly available?

irondad: I don't know how we fix the lack of responsibility problem. Sometimes it seems as if the culture is built around the Bart Simpson "Not Me Man" motto. Everything is someone else's problem...

Steve Williams said...

projecta1: You're right, even with laws controlling use of phones who knows how well they would be followed.

Orin said...

Something I noticed while living in Europe is how a driver's license is very difficult (and expensive) to get and very easy to lose. In Germany, you have to go through a process very similar to getting a pilot's license; an article in AutoWeek noted the United States is the only industrialized nation that does not require some kind of formalized training for getting a license. In fact, BMW made use of this in advertising their advanced driver training program, picture ads featuring Aunt Tilly and that sketchy guy your mom married as not good people from which to learn to drive.

In Sweden, any alcohol in your blood gets you a DUI and a lengthy license suspension; using the cell while driving gets you a bunch of points on your license in several countries. In Europe, of course, people don't really need to drive because there's really good public transportation (financed by high taxes on fuel and motor vehicles) and good intercity railways.

Some Fox News Channel ranter has been quoted as saying "we're three minutes away from becoming Europe." I think that'd mostly be a good thing...

Scootin' Old Skool

Steve Williams said...

Orin: Interesting observations about how driving and cell phone use is handled in Europe.

I suppose driving is viewed much in the same way that gun ownership is at some level. Regardless of the legal issues surrounding either the expectation of our country is that both are something inherently American and the government should stay out of the way.

If as individuals we were more responsible government wouldn't need to get in the way.

I'm not sure how I feel about how cell phone use should be managed on the road. I just know from first hand experience that it's a danger to me.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately driving, and cell phone use, are each effectively treated as rights in the U.S. Until that changes and there are dire consequences for their misuse we will continue to have accidents and deaths but I don't see a possibility of that changing in our lifetimes.