I’ll warn you in this first sentence that this edition of “Quick Thoughts” is going to be a rant. If you want to keep reading, it will be your own fault if you don’t like what you read. However, if you decide to take the plunge and see what has me so riled up, I hope you can understand my frustration. Hold on and take a deep breath. Your flight may be a bit bumpy.
I love my cell phone. I use it all the time. They’ve invaded our lives like locusts over the Nile Delta. They are extremely useful, and I use mine just about everywhere I go. The one place I don’t use my cell phone? When I’m in the driver’s seat. That’s just no place for anyone to be using their phone.
Today, on the way home from Medina, I followed a white, box truck all the way to Lockport. The guy driving was on his cell phone at the very beginning. Then he went to texting. With those big mirrors on the side of the truck, it was very easy to see what was going on in the cab. Meanwhile, he was weaving back and forth in his lane. In the 13 miles between the bowling alley and Tops at Routes 31 and 77, he drifted into the opposite lane at least nine times.
At the same time, he couldn’t keep a constant speed. As he read and responded to his texts, not only was he weaving, but he was drastically slowing and accelerating. Just west of Middleport, a State Trooper was passing us in the opposite direction. Even though the speed limit is 55 in that area, and he was already only driving at 50 miles per hour, that driver slammed the brakes and slowed to 40.
Listen, the police aren’t going to pull you over for doing the speed limit. There’s no need to slow down if you’re obeying that limit. And there’s definitely no reason to slow down to 15 miles per hours less than the limit. However, they will pull you over for using your phone while driving. There’s a good reason for that.
The National Safety Council states that cell phone related accidents have climbed to 1.6 million accidents a year. Twenty-five percent of car accidents in the US are caused by texting and driving. People who text while driving are SIX TIMES more likely to be in an accident than a drunk driver. In 2013, 3,154 people were killed in accidents involving texting while driving. Eleven teenage drivers are killed a day in texting related car accidents.
Despite that these facts are very well known, and repeated in billboards and commercials, I see people every day texting and driving. While standing out at the bus stop in the morning, a couple dozen cars pass by the house. I guarantee at least half of them are on their phones as they pass the house. Some even have children in the car with them. That is completely irresponsible.
Most of the time when I text, I’m texting about inane garbage that really isn’t life or death. Why would I put myself (and others) into danger by responding to texts while driving? Why would you? None of us are that important.
We’re driving 3,000 pound machines that can do some serious harm to others if we’re not careful. Our focus needs to be on the road in front of us and our surroundings as we drive. Answering a text late is better than showing up dead. Honestly, you’re an idiot if you think texting and driving is okay. I had other words in mind here, but we’ll stick with idiot.
Even though Craig Bacon has a handy holder in his console for his phone, it rarely leaves his back pocket while he’s driving. He feels his life and of those around him, even perfect strangers, are worth more than another funny meme sent on his phone.