I’ve written several times about the dangers of texting while driving and also about the dangers of using a cell phone while driving. The Dallas Morning News recently ran a good editorial urging Texans to stop abusing the privileges we have now, before the government puts a total ban on cell phone usage in cars. Here are excerpts:
You’ve seen this guy on the highway. Cars stacked behind him in the left lane — in Texas, the “doggone fast lane.” Creeping along, oblivious to the havoc he creates by forcing everyone to dodge around him in a shower of very bad words.
Then you see the problem. This knucklehead is yak-yak-yakking away on — You gotta be kidding me! — a cellphone. You stifle the urge to NASCAR him into the median and speed off angry.
And he’s mostly just an annoyance. What about the swervers, red-light-runners and last-second-lane-changers? These are the true-blue dangers, all because it’s more important to relate every detail of their day than keep their eyes and brains focused on the task at hand.
There oughta be a law?
Tap the brakes. We can handle quick, obviously more important phone calls while driving. It’s everyone else who’s the problem.
Well, the National Transportation Safety Board tapped into your first impulse recently in recommending that states ban all cellphone use while driving. All. No more quick honey-do calls. No more checking with the office while stuck in traffic. No more tracking down your kids.
No more anything, hand-held or hands free.
We get the “no texting” part. Any activity that demands that you take a hand or two off the wheel and stare at your iPhone is a lousy idea. We supported the Texas Legislature’s texting ban, which Gov. Rick Perry vetoed as nanny-statism run amok.
Perry was wrong, but we’re not quite ready to buy the NTSB’s total blackout, either. Some studies do show cognitive degeneration from even hands-free phoning, but others are less definitive. We can only imagine the difficulty for a patrol cop trying to deduce whether a guy passing at 45 mph was singing with the radio, talking to himself or actually carrying on a phone conversation.
Yet, this is where we’re headed, if the rest of us — you know, the responsible ones — don’t start acting that way. Perhaps what we need is a public safety campaign like “Don’t Mess with Texas” to implore Texans to stow their phones while driving and use them only when absolutely necessary.
If we don’t police ourselves, the state will do it for us. And surely that’s not the best possible outcome.