Drunk on Texting
It seems to be the new and accepted way of the road; meandering, weaving, wandering vehicles, repeatedly crossing into other lanes as drivers try to text message, dial numbers on cells and-the newest and perhaps most ridiculously pointless invention of communication-twitter.
As a motorcyclist I have always been acutely aware of the dangers posted by other motorists. It comes in all shapes and sizes; stupidity, lameness, carelessness, greediness, impatience, anger, and, the most egregious; intoxication, either by drugs or alcohol. However, unlike driving drunk or while impaired on any number of drugs, for some reason this new fascination with trying to communicate while driving is a fully accepted way of life now. What’s surprising is there doesn’t seem to be much public outcry over it. Personally, I think it should all be made a crime; dialing, texting, even hands-free talking should all be illegal while driving a car.
Also, reading the newspaper, shaving, applying make-up, crossword puzzles and trying to work on the computer (all activities I have seen in action not once but numerous times over the years). I actually broke up with a girlfriend once because she refused to see the danger in doing her make-up in the rearview mirror while driving to work.
Yes, I have a cell, but when a call comes in while I’m driving I pull to the shoulder to answer it. Personally, I don’t think I could ever live with myself if I caused any bodily harm to someone just so I could take a call. How many of our calls are really that important?
What I’d really like to know is exactly what are all these people talking about? Over the years, while out and about, I’ve overheard my share of conversations people have with one another, face to face, and it doesn’t seem they have much of anything to say in person, so what is it exactly that is so vital that it’s worth risking killing and maiming others for?
My experience has made it quite apparent that the majority of drivers have enough trouble just executing the task of driving let along the added distractions of taking eyes off the road to dial a number and then get sidetracked in a conversation. Add to the equation oversized vehicles in the form of top-heavy, slow stopping SUVs, impatient and perpetually late drivers, an increasing level of rudeness, and you have a virtual recipe on our roads today for absolute terror and mayhem.
As a motorcyclist I have decided to reduce my exposure to these idiots by limiting my riding time on city streets and freeways. After a near head-on with a black Mercedes being driven by a frantically texting woman who wandered all the way into my lane (potentially pinning me against the guardrail on my side of the road) before a blast of the horn woke her from her stupor, I decided it has gone too far. I am now looking at doing more track days (yes, blasting around a race circuit is much, much safer in my eyes than going up against several tons of steel being piloted by a gabbing, gossip-hungry driver) and also looking to get back to my first love; off-road-anything to get away from this new electronic epidemic.
I am compromising my happiness to some degree, but ultimately I only see the situation getting worse and have decided to reduce the odds of becoming a hood ornament for a cell phone junkie. And so, I’ve decided to ride less on the street in favor of self-preservation.
The Autoclub has done their studies and found that drivers that are texting or dialing numbers and chatting while driving have reduced their concentration and reaction times to the equivalent of being legally drunk. I hate to think of what great importance was being discussed on the airwaves that resulted in deaths and disfigurements. What conversation is worth that?
I have begun my search for a country where eating, drinking, talking on phones, reading and any other activity while driving is illegal. That is my new criteria for paradise. I’ll be very interested to hear what readers have to say about this. I honestly would like to have an open forum here to discuss this growing threat. Who knows, maybe with enough action we might even get a congressman to consider introducing some legislation.
Let’s hear your thoughts.