Distracted drivers more dangerous than drunks

A man yapping away on his cell phone drifted into my lane on Rte. 419 in Roanoke County Tuesday afternoon, forcing me to swerve my motorcycle close to the median.  I honked the horn and he looked at me with a deadpan stare: No remorse, no regret, not even surprise.

Drivers who talk and text on their cells while driving have become more dangerous than drunk drivers on the nation’s roads. The problem has become so bad that U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has launched a “shut up and drive” campaign directed at distracted drivers.

LaHood says 6,000 people die every year and another half million are injured because of distracted driving: people talking or texting on cellphones, fiddling with their car radios, GPS units, reading, putting on makeup or other things.

Six states have banned using a cell phone while driving and another 21 have banned texting but such laws are seldom enforced and some states, like Virginia, make using a cell phone for talking or texting a “secondary offense,” which means a cop has to have another reason to pull you over.

The feds recently launched pilot programs called “Phone in One Hand: Ticket in the Other” in Syracuse, New York, and Hartford, CT.

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey wants a “No Phone Zone Day” in America, telling the story of 9-year-old Erica, who died when a driver using her cell phone struck the youngster’s bicycle just “15 pedals from home.”

When a drunk causes an accident that kills someone, he or she often faces charges of vehicular homicide.

The same should happen to distracted to drivers. They are a menace on the road and to society.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I knew we had a problem when I was nearly pancaked into a woman’s car on the 405 freeway in L.A. – she was driving 40 mph to apply her makeup using a mirror on the visor.

    But with the advent of cell phones I sadly sold my road bike – there are too many distracted drivers out there. You need all the airbags you can get. Texting has only convinced me of the wisdom of my decision. Hope springs eternal – an old TR sits in the shed waiting to rise like a phoenix in a phoneless car world!

  2. While in Fort Wayne, IN last summer on vacation, I saw a number of billboards around the city, paid for by Parkview Hospital, one of the biggest hospitals in town. They said, “Don’t text and drive”, but the ‘r’ and ‘v’ in the word “drive” were grayed out so that the phrase read “Don’t text and die”. I thought that was a pretty creative way to make a point.

    • Pretty funny, just thinking about how you run into something on the road while you’re taking notes regarding the billboard.

      Yes, I know, it’s situational, the problem is knowing what situation is more risky than another.

      Laws don’t change the actions, it just increases the risk for a bad day. Welcome to the video solution that is now spreadiing around the world. Smile.

  3. We used to play a very racist game in the car–guess which country the terrible driver in front of us came from. Now it’s 100% person on cell phone. And this week I was parked in by a person on the cell phone. I had to get out of my car and ask them to move and they had the audacity to say “just a minute, I’m almost done”. I’d say it’s time to move out of Northern Virginia to more civil areas, but you prove there just aren’t any anymore…

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