Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014
Joyce Minor

Cell phone driving is a real road hazard

Published:   |   Updated: May 6, 2013 at 11:34 AM

Yesterday I had a brush with death, and it really got me thinking. You see, it was senseless, careless actions by two total strangers that nearly ended my life. And it should never have happened, wouldn't have happened, if we would all wake up and demand something be done about people who use their cell phones while driving.

I was on my way home from work, headed north on Memorial Drive. It's a narrow two-lane road with lots of blind curves and several small hills that obstruct vision.

Consequently, there are long stretches where the lanes are separated by a double yellow line. The road also has no shoulders and multiple mailboxes right at the edge of the pavement.

I was only going 40 because a tiny compact car in front of me was going even slower. But a guy behind me in a muscle sports car had no patience. He was racing his engine and driving with one hand while talking on his cell phone. I'm sure he thought I was the slow one and didn't even realize there was another car ahead of me.

For a couple of miles he tailgated me so closely I was afraid he would rear end my car. Finally, he reached the end of his patience and roared out around me, despite the double yellow line and small hill ahead that made it impossible to see.

As he crested the hill, still in the left lane, another car came over the hill from the other way headed straight for him. He tried to dart over in front of me, but that's when he saw the little car ahead of mine. He had no choice but to gun it, and barely made it around the two of us as the oncoming car swerved to miss him.

But that was only the beginning. You see, that oncoming car was being followed closely by another. And the driver of that second car was looking down, not at the road. He appeared to be texting on his cell phone. He wandered across the double yellow line into my lane and straight toward me. I laid on the horn, swerved off the road onto the grass, and nearly took out a couple of mailboxes.

That's when the oncoming driver finally looked up, saw where he was, and quickly jerked his car back into his own lane, narrowly missing the car behind me.

Two near misses in a matter of seconds, both caused by drivers using cell phones. I was ticked!

I have a cell phone, too, and many are the times I have had it ring while I'm driving, or remembered while driving that I urgently needed to call someone.

I do my best to resist those urges; it's just too dangerous. I don't want to die that way, and I certainly could not live with the guilt if I caused someone else's death because I was paying more attention to my phone than to the traffic.

When is someone going to introduce legislation to outlaw using cell phones while driving? It seems like a no-brainer. We have definitive research proving that drivers who are on the phone cause more accidents.

Even hands-free phones make no difference because it's not what your hands are doing that causes the distraction. It's what your mind is doing - concentrating on your conversation, not your driving.

So next time you're tempted to grab the phone while driving, I hope you'll think twice and wait till you stop. And if anyone ever introduces the idea of outlawing cell phone use while driving - get behind it.

If you don't, you could find yourself directly in the path of it - "it" being a distracted, cell phoning driver.


Part of the Tribune family of products