Cell phones are destroying driving

Noah Kravitz
 from Oakland, CA
Published: March 29, 2010

(Editor's Note: The following is Noah's opinion and does not necessarily represent the views of anyone else at PhoneDog nor any of our partners or advertisers)

I've had enough. All use of cell phones by drivers should be outlawed immediately. I'm sick and tired of almost getting hit by, getting cut off by, getting stuck behind, or otherwise having to deal with distracted, half-there, entirely dangerous drivers who are more engaged with their cell phones than with the task of safely piloting their vehicles. I don't care if you're talking hands-free on a Bluetooth earpiece or driving with your knees while two-thumb texting on an iPhone: If you're driving, using a mobile phone should be illegal. And the laws should be backed by big penalties and diligent enforcement. Period.

I know this will never happen, and I can hear some of you calling me all sorts of names for suggesting such a thing. That's fine. But I'm telling you, using a phone while driving is distracting and, therefore, dangerous. So are many other things, including eating and applying makeup while behind the wheel, but I'm not a food or style blogger, so I'll leave those alone. Though Dan, if you're reading, enough with the driving-by-knees while eating your Happy Meals, okay?

Plenty of government & independent agencies and media outlets can give you hard data. Car and Driver magazine went so far as to test drivers' reaction times during sober texting and drunk driving (in a closed, controlled environment) and their data showed that texting while driving kills reaction times faster than getting lit on vodka does. 

Me, I can give you anecdotal evidence. After almost getting runover by an SUV driver with cellie in hand while walking through a crosswalk last Friday, and then getting stuck behind a subcompact doing 45 on the freeway at the hands of its earpiece-in-ear, yapping away on the phone driver, I finally decided to write the post I've written in my head at least once a week for the past six months. It's simple, really:

HANG UP THE DAMN PHONE AND DRIVE

I don't care how good you think you are at multitasking: It's safer to stay off the phone while driving than to be on it. Statistics can be manipulated to tell whatever side of a story you want them to, so I'm not going to back that statement up with any links or facts or figures, but rather state it as a personal plea, from me to you, from one over-connected mobile tech enthusiast to another. Please. Lay off the phone while you're behind the wheel.

Just enjoy the road. Enjoy some time away from it all. Think about how generations of folks got along just fine without always-connected access to voice and data. Chat with the other folks in the car. Get into your driving, or turn up the radio, or have the person in the passenger's seat take the call or reply to the text for you. Or even pull off the road (safely, not on the shoulder of the Interstate) and call the person back.

It can wait, whatever it is, until the car is parked. If it's super urgent and can't wait, then it's certainly worthy of your pulling over to deal with it, right?

Your car can and will kill other people when it hits them. Vehicular homicide will mess up your life, for life. Waiting half an hour to respond to a text won't.

So, please. Hang up and drive.