Driving Distractions and Law Distractions

Starting last year, it became illegal in California to hold a cell phone to your ear while driving a motor vehicle. Then in an addendum, they added sending text-messages to the list of no-no’s. If speaking on your cell phone while driving was the culprit, then the law should have made it illegal to talk on the phone. But no, it’s a “hands free” law. A huge boon for head-set manufacturers who have the law on their side. I bet their sales jumped when that law went into effect.

Distractions while driving? What about friends chatting with you and laughing or taunting you from the back seat? How about normal activities like changing your CD player? Adjusting the radio? Reading billboards? Or how about what some people do and other things I’ve heard people do regularly like eating? Applying makeup!? Reading newspapers!? Shaving!?

This is a perfect example of treating the symptom and not the disease. The disease here is poor education and poor emphasis on safe driving. I took a defensive drivers class a year or so ago and it was four hours of instruction on safe driving. I didn’t particularly enjoy it since I feel I’m a pretty safe driver anyway and took the class to get my Defensive Driver’s Card. But the class was a fantastic example of what should be done. I came out of there thinking, “Wow! That should be REQUIRED for EVERY driver.” For me it was about 75% known and 25% new material but I know many people would see it vice-versa.

It’s mildly entertaining to read articles like Ore. teens largely ignoring cell phone driving ban in which studies are quoted as not showing improvements.

This law is a distraction; a useless piece of legislation to quiet the masses and to say “Look, we’re doing something!” I hope we having smarter law makers some day who can stand up to the masses and point out what is really bothering them rather than having knee-jerk reactions and writing dumb laws.

If I am driving down the freeway in traffic and I am on my cell to my Dad and suddenly there are brake lights everywhere, I yell “GOTTA DRIVE!” into the phone and chuck it to the passenger seat, immediately directing my full attention to the road. When things have cooled down, I pick up the phone and continue my conversation. I do not send text-messages while driving or email, I don’t read newspapers or shave. I do eat quite often. An apple makes a nice driving snack; heck changing gears is tougher than eating an apple.

Frankly, I am more concerned about the complete lack of understanding at least 50% of drivers seem to have for how to proceed at a 4-way stop sign. Signaling is a courtesy yes; would it kill you to be courteous? Blind spots are called blind spots for a reason. If you are on a curvy road and your phone falls just out of your reach, please use your brain. Pull over, retrieve the phone (feel free to swear about it), and then continue.

I am pissed off that my safe driving experience is now interrupted by me having to put on and off a headset when I get in and out of the car. Or if I forgot my headset, I just make sure it’s night time when you cannot tell I’m on the phone or I put the phone on speaker phone. Unless an officer is looking down into my car from above, they are not going to be able to see if I am on my cell phone. Officially I believe speaker-phone does not count as “hands free”. WTF is up with that? Talk about a law made by head-set companies!?
—- END RANT —-

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