Friday, September 3, 2010

Cell phone use while driving can save lives

I’ve long been convinced that blabbing on a cell phone while driving is a serious distraction. Compared to carrying on an intense debate with a passenger, cell phone conversations are much worse because the person on the other end of the call is unlikely to scream “Stop!!” when you’re about to run a red light.

And what about these hands-free devices? Does anyone really believe that having a Bluetooth thingy jammed in your ear makes your cell phone call any less distracting? I’ve used hands-free devices and experienced the same phenomenon as I have when holding a cell phone to my ear: “Wow! I’m already at the Sagamore Bridge? I don’t even remember going through Rockland, Hanover, Pembroke, Kingston and Plymouth. Son of a gun…”

Read up on a recent study showing no benefit from hands-free cell phones.

Here’s one I don’t think the university psychologists have studied: How many lives have been saved by people who called 9-1-1 on their cell phones to report another motorist driving erratically?

Anecdotally, I’ve heard many stories about drunk drivers being outed by cell phone toting vigilantes. A veritable second police department reporting every line crossing, every weave. It’s like Neighborhood Watch on wheels.

Measuring the number of people who did not get killed by drunk drivers is similar to measuring the number of people whose jobs were saved by the stimulus bill. In fact, so similar, that I’ll just use the same figure and declare that 3.5 million people’s lives were saved by cell phone snitches.

Unfortunately, there are some studies that complicate my plan to combat laws that ban the use of cell phones while driving. A 2006 study by the University of Utah equates the danger of driving while chatting to driving while drinking.

Damn. That really does take the wind out of my sail.

I’m not one who’s big on common sense laws. I never smoked. I never streaked at a Major League Baseball game. I don’t eat a lot of Monte Cristo sandwiches. But I’d like to reserve my right to run naked through the outfield at a Red Sox game with a deep fried sandwich in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

Copyright 2010 Randy Hunt

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