Just the other day the local newspaper carried an column about traffic safety and cell phone use. Numerous studies were sited that pretty much indicate that driving while talking on a cell phone incurs about the same distraction level as say, having an animated discussion with someone riding in the car. I wonder who funds these things. Maybe there needs to be a study on near misses while driving and using a cell phone.
So today was just another day when someone talking on a cell phone while driving nearly clocked me. It was like my car was invisible until I honked the horn. He was exiting a driveway and started slowly rolling out onto the street and I thought, "OK, there's plenty of room for him to wait there for an opening in traffic."
Except he didn't wait, he actually started accelerating! Broad daylight, no visual obstructions, didn't stop until I honked and swerved. The look on his face was as if I had just suddenly appeared out of thin air. I'm usually not surprised if someone overlooks me while I'm driving the MINI, it is a smaller car. But I was driving a Mazda 3 sedan this time. And I've had people nearly run me off the road while I'm driving a big white pickup truck. It seems like at least half the time I can see the other driver is holding a cell phone against their ear.
Maybe they would be just as distracted using a hands free cell phone device, I don't know. The MINI is a manual transmission, so if I've got one hand busy holding a cell phone against my ear, that leaves one other hand to handle steering and shifting (and turn indicators, powering windows up/down, activating wipers, adjusting radio, etc.). So I do use a blue tooth device. I like driving with both hands on the wheel, except for during shifts. Having both hands on the wheel gives me an edge when I have to dodge those other drivers.