I've just returned to the US after living abroad for seven years, and I am appalled by the sight of so many people -- so many people -- talking on mobile phones while driving. Every other person, it seems, has their cell phone pasted to the ear, yakking it up. I mean really, what the hell is so important that you can't wait 1 minute and pull over to talk?
You always know the ones who are talking. They're weaving a little, looking in the mirror and picking at their teeth while yammering away. Taking all turns at 3.5 mph because they're steering and holding the phone and probably turning the radio down all at the same time. Unable to change lanes in a sensible way because they're actually visualising a spreadsheet in their heads while talking to some colleague about "those changes in column 7? -- it needs to be re-totaled with the new variables included!" Or talking to a best friend about what color to paint the hallway. Or blabbing about something else, equally mission-critical and totally life-changing.
What the hell is wrong with these people?
And they never think their driving is a problem. Like drunks who stagger out to their cars, stabbing keys multiple times at the door locks, they're "fine." "Oh, I'm a good driver! I really pay attention. I don't think my driving's altered at all." All that stuff about driving extra slow and delayed reaction times and poor assessment of risk? "Not me, buddy!"
I don't care if they're using hands-free technology or those dorky-looking bluetooth things or whatever. Studies have shown that you're many times more likely to have an accident when talking on the phone in the car. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
Using wireless communications devices while driving can be distracting and increase the risk of crash and injury. Therefore, NHTSA recommends that drivers not use these devices while driving, except in [an] emergency. This recommendation applies to both hand-held and hands-free devices.
A New York Times article gives background on this study, which is one of many over the last several years. Numerous countries and US states have banned or severely restricted cell phone usage based on accident studies. And texting while driving? Please. Or rather, please don't.
This video went viral over the internet during the last several days, and for a reason. While horrible and graphic, it also shows what disasters can occur when cell phones and driving mix.
You don't want to be these people. You really don't. Like drinking and driving, cell phone use while driving is irresponsible and just plain wrong. Just like alcohol or drugs, cell phone usage causes you to be significantly impaired if you use a mobile phone while behind the wheel.
Get it through your head: Just shut up and drive.
UPDATE: http://bit.ly/p2o1m check it out...