Driving While Dialing

We interrupt the Digital Grab analysis to bring you the results of the “Car Talk” guys’ current poll.

The question: “Is it time to ban cell phone use in cars nationally, or am I just being cranky?” The answer is probably both, but I don’t have time today to address the curmudgeon factor on “Car Talk.” Trust me, it’s in the stratosphere. So far 73 percent of people responded yes, phones should be banned; 18 percent say we should allow hands-free devices; 9 percent voted for no ban.

The comments range from vituperative to hilarious.

I voted with the 73 percent because further down in the question it said “while driving.” I don’t think Click and Clack have anything against passenger use of cell phones, or against someone who pulls over to make a call.

Connecticut required the use of hands-free devices a few years ago, and I swear that since then I’ve seen more people yakking with the phone plastered to the side of their face. One woman, a nurse I think, in an SUV nearly hit me (a pedestrian) and a motorist as she barreled out of the hospital parking lot, feet from the ER entrance. Another woman drove up the middle of a two way street on a blind hill because she wasn’t strong enough to steer her behemoth Lexus SUV with one hand. I find it particularly unnerving to see people in vehicles with company logos blatantly violating the law.

And as for text messaging – how in the world can anyone hold a phone, type with two thumbs and steer? Not very well is my guess.

The studies seem to indicate that hands-free devices don’t help because it’s not the hands that are distracted, it’s the brain. The latest results show that driving while phoning is equivalent to drunken driving.

Of course my attitude will probably infuriate a good many people, including my cousin. She claims that she doesn’t feel right if she doesn’t have a phone in her hand as she whips down the highway. I’m really glad she lives in a state that doesn’t outlaw such things and that she lives half way across the country.

One partial solution is to go back to the old days when all cars had standard transmissions. At least it would cut cell use where with traffic lights and stop signs. Plus stick shift cars get better gas mileage.

In the meantime, I’m ordering a Click and Clack bumper sticker that says, “Drive now, talk later.”

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