By John Matonich
I have never been someone who favors more regulation. I think many things that are regulated are more common sense and we don’t always need more laws to protect us. I wore seatbelts before it was law, but still feel it should be my choice to be dumb. That being said, I do have to admit there are some laws I wish were on the books.
One such law I do believe we need asap is to not allow the use of cell phones without a “hands free” component while driving. I know it is already illegal to text while driving but this needs to also include the general use of cell phones as well. Even in this remote area I have seen too many instances where it has caused accidents and injury.
It was storming the other day and I was heading home from the shop when I saw a vehicle slide right through an intersection. Given the weather that day I can understand the lack of control, but when the vehicle slid by me I could see the driver had a cell phone glued to the ear. The driver didn’t even put the phone down while the car slid through the intersection and past me. I can’t imagine what call was so important that it could have caused an accident. I felt relieved that no one was coming the other way as it could have been a disaster.
Not too many days later, another driver didn’t make a curve and their car sailed quite far off the road and sustained a lot of damage. This driver had negotiated this same curve about every day for the last couple of years but for some reason didn’t remember it was there this time. It was in town and had a lower speed limit but that didn’t help the driver remember. The car had a fair amount of damage and had to be towed away but fortunately no one was hurt. The driver didn’t admit it to the group but I heard a conversation later that the cell phone was the distraction that made the driver forget the curve was coming up.
Even in our rural area, you can’t count on being the only one on the road and it made me shiver to think how much this happens in more urban areas. Enough is enough. It’s time to take this potentially dangerous habit out of the hands of drivers. There is enough technology around that would still allow calls to be made but without the phone glued to your ear. Accidents would certainly continue to happen but this type may diminish. I am fortunate that my truck has a blue tooth connection so I can easily leave my phone in my pocket and still make and receive calls. My Jeep is so noisy, I can’t hear calls anyway unless I stop so that keeps it relatively safe.
Some folks might think that our younger folks are the heavy users of cell phones while driving but the two drivers I mentioned earlier were middle-aged so it isn’t just young folks who would benefit from a new law. I can’t remember ever making it getting a call that was more important than my life and while I do as much as I can to be safe, I would feel better if this one law was in place for those who think they can do it all while driving.
And that’s the situation as I survey it …
Image credit: Oregon Department of Transportation