Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Bitch, bitch

I saw the other day what must have been the overlord of all foolish driving maneuvers. A woman was backing her car out of a parking garage, across a sidewalk and into rush-hour traffic, watching for pedestrians and oncoming vehicles, whilst yammering away on a cell phone. Yes, I am one of those curmudgeons who thinks that cell phone use and driving just don't mix.

Part of my objection I can support empirically. Look at this, and this, and this. Google it yourself and you'll find more. The rest of my objection is more anecdote, but in my view no less compelling. When you're having a conversation in person, you are in the present, aware of the space you're actually occupying. When you're on the phone, you're kind of in between where you are and where the other person is. I've had phone conversations whilst staring at the TV (when I had cable service, that is), and I found that I could concentrate either on the program or the conversation, not both.

Maybe you're thinking, "Well, that's just you." Is it? Those studies I cited earlier indicate that it's not just me, and my own experience confirms this. Being a Center City resident, I'm always walking about crowded streets, and the most obnoxious walkers are those on cell phones. They'll walk into traffic, step directly in your path, completely unaware of what's going on around them. That's the point: They're unaware of what's going on around them. On the sidewalk it's no big deal, but do we want that kind of behavior encouraged on the road?

Maybe you trust that drivers will be responsible regarding distractions, and if so I applaud you. I find it refreshing that in this day and age anyone can hold that kind of unblemished, idealistic faith in the skill and dedication of the average motorist. My own view is a bit more cynical, shaped by years of driving to work watching people eat, drink, shave, apply makeup and read the newspaper behind the wheel. Ban cell phone use while driving, I say. If you have a conversation that's so important pull over; if not, keep your mind on your driving and we'll all be safer for it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Word. Hang up and drive.


12:31 PM  
Blogger Amy McWeasel said...

Agreed. I like the anecdote (I forget where I read it) that Eurpoean car designers were puzzled about Americans and their ever-increasing cupholder sizes, for why would a driver need a place to hold his/her beverage... shouldn't s/he be driving and not drinking a gallon of soda?!

When behind the wheel, just drive.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Studies have proven that drunk driving and cell phone driving behavior are practically indistinguishable.

11:30 PM  

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