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Trapped in a cell

March 24, 2012 - Brad Siddons
There are times when I'd like to take every cellphone in service, put them all in a great big bag, and drop them into a black hole. I really think we'd all be better off.

Oh sure, there would be days and months of snarling and gnashing of teeth from millions of dedicated owners and providers, all contending that “we” just can't survive without cells, from basic phones to the latest “smart” devices. I have wondered how I would stay in touch with my wife and three daughters if suddenly my cell stopped working. After a lot of pondering, I'm inclined to believe that we would find a way.

If there is one thing I'm sure about, it's that “we” would all be safer on the road without cells. Pennsylvania lawmakers addressed part of the problem by banning texting while driving. I had hoped that my fellow Commonwealth drivers were smart enough to save the texting for after the car was parked without a statute ordering that, but I guess not. As a result, we have another law, another government intrusion into our private lives. Oh that it had not been necessary.

This reminds me of the great seatbelt fight that took place in Pennsylvania and across the nation many years ago. It's my belief that airbags would not have been needed if people had the sense back then to simply buckle up. But no, they couldn't be convinced that belts would save their lives. So, lawmakers did what they do best, and made it a secondary offense to leave the belt dangling. Because the nationwide highway death toll continued at an alarming rate, the airbag was developed and eventually mandated in every car, at very great expense. And that's the way it is today.

Now, back to cells. Texting might be illegal, but talking isn't. While I am guilty of the occasional cell conversation while behind the wheel, I do try to avoid it as much as I can, or use a hands-free hookup when practical. Still, I do have room for improvement.

I've noticed something else on the road that REALLY bothers me, and I'm ready to blame the cell for that, too. It seems that a great many drivers have forgotten all about that lever that's on the left side of the steering wheel: the TURN SIGNAL. In 40-plus years of driving, never have I seen it so bad. So I began to watch drivers who turn in front of me without a signal, or merge on the highway without blinking, or slide into the convenience store without warning. And guess what? A great many of them — it's tough to say “most” — have their heads propped up by a hand holding a cell.

After all, how can you put on a turn signal when one hand is on the wheel — already the driver is not in full control — and the other is holding that magical device? You don't need to be a genius to realize that this isn't good.

Do drivers need to be ordered to stop talking and driving? Seems like a no-brainer to me. And that's all the words I have to say about that.


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