Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Hang Up and Drive!
I have an admitted loathing of cell phones. I do not carry one. I have had one handed to me, and I gave it back. There have been a very few instances when I had wished that I had one. But I have always managed to do without, and figure that if the rest of the planet wants to be connected 24/7, fine, but I enjoy the peace of occasionally being incommunicado.
Being a tolerant person, I don't care that everyone else seems to be talking all the time. I do care, however, when that talking interferes with my pursuit of happiness. Some times the use is merely rude and annoying: on the treadmill at the gym, in a restaurant at the table next to me, in line at the grocery store at 110 decibels. Perhaps cell phone use should be regulated like smoking. What I really can't tolerate, though, is drivers who not only speak on their phones, but are doing so without a hands-free kit. Somehow the combination of both the conversational distraction and the physical distraction of talking on a cell phone transforms drivers into hideously dangerous menaces on our roads. I was on Route 2 recently heading west just past Belmont hill. A Saab 9-5 suddenly veered from a left lane to cut across two lanes of traffic to make an exit he almost missed. No look. No turnsignal--not surprising since his cell phone was in his left hand. In the process of making this maneuver, this Saab driver almost collided with me. I had to bury the brakes to keep from getting hit. I could not swerve because of traffic in adjacent lanes. This unsafe driver never knew of the accident he nearly created. His gaze was dead ahead, and his mouth was going a mile a minute. I am sad to report that this dope is a customer at Charles River Saab (based on the emblem on the back of his car).
There is nothing inherently dangerous about a cell phone. It's only dangerous in the hands of someone using it inappropriately. Hang up and drive, or pull over and talk. Or get a hands-free kit!

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