Driven to Distraction

A couple of years ago, my husband, then-9-year-old son and I had a too-close call with a cell-phone-wielding woman maneuvering an SUV through our always-crowded downtown area.

She hung a fast right on red without stopping, slowing or, apparently, even wondering if any pedestrians might be taking advantage of the flashing “walk” signal. Fortunately, my husband saw her and pulled both Matt and me from her path. She never even noticed us scrambling out of her way.

Some politicians oppose no-cell-phones-while-driving legislation and
call it “nanny government.” But perhaps we could use a little of Mary
Poppins’ strong medicine right now, as many cell-phone companies
publicly tout their “safety-first” campaigns while lobbying against
cell-phone safety laws that might indirectly reduce users’ monthly

Clearly, a little nannying is in order. Some parents at my son’s
school could use a stern lecture from Ms. Poppins, I’m afraid. Our
school newsletter has had to remind distracted parents — more than once
— to nix the cell-phone use in the school drop-off zone. Parents double
park or weave in and out of parked cars, chatting away, while their
kids jump out and dart between those cars. It’s a recipe for disaster.

As for other distractions? They’re a problem, of course. But
let’s do the math: If the average cell-phone-in-the-car user spent as
much time on other distractions as he spends talking on the phone, he’d
weigh 400 pounds, have advanced lung cancer and be up to his ears in
dog hair.

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