Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Rant Time!

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.

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