Driving to work this morning I found my mood going down the tube. It wasn’t just a case of the Mondays or due to the change in weather. It was a case of I hate people. Yep, I hate people. To be more specific, I hate people who are not focused on driving and nearly crash into me.
Each morning I drive roughly 11 miles to work and it’s typically uneventful. This morning however, not one but TWO(!) commuters, both on their cell phones, attempted to change lanes right in to me pushing me to the shoulder. I consider my reaction of honking the horn quite mild considering the string of profanity running through my brain. Driving a bright-orange Jeep I am not hard to miss unless of course you are a dummy on your cell phone.
I don’t understand why people choose to use their cell phones while driving. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, distracted or inattentive driving is a factor in one in four crashes, resulting in at least 70 deaths and 350 serious injuries EACH year! That’s just in Minnesota. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that each day in the United States, over 8 people are killed and 1,161 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.
Seriously people, when you are controlling a machine that shares the weight of a 10-year old elephant you have no business talking to grandma. Sure, cell phone usage isn’t the only factor in distracted or inattentive driving. Distracted or inattentive driving is any activity that diverts a person’s attention away from the focusing on the road. Here are some distracted driving examples from the US Department of Transportation:
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
See number one and two on that list? Because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction and is addressed in Minnesota with the “No Texting While Driving” Law.
There are two components to the “No Texting While Driving” Law:
- It’s illegal for drivers under age 18 to use a cell phone, whether hand-held or hands-free – except to call 911 in an emergency.
- It’s illegal for drivers of all ages to compose, read, or send text messages or access the Internet while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic. By the way, “in motion or a part of traffic” includes stopped in traffic or at a traffic light.
While this law is a great start, it’s not enough. I believe regardless of age; cell phone usage should be totally banned for adults just as it is for teenagers.
The data speaks for itself. With the growing number of cell phones the death toll is only going to rise. Take a stand against distracted driving and pledge to make the commitment to drive phone-free today.