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Driving on cellphone

Put your cellphone away before you get someone killed – perhaps even you. Don’t text, go online, book restaurant reservations, get directions from Google or carry on a conversation with long-lost friends. Just drive.

Ted LaturnusHey you! Yeah, I’m talking to you … the guy who seems to be talking to himself or, worse, the one with a cellphone plastered to the side of his head. A moment of your time, if you please.

I’ve been stuck in traffic behind you for a while and even if you haven’t noticed, I see the problems you’re causing. How could I not?

You don’t signal, you drive under the speed limit, you drive over the speed limit, you shoot red lights, you wander into the other lane, block the fast lane, turn left from the right lane, turn right from the left lane and just generally make a nuisance of yourself.

You’re blithely cruising along, holding up traffic and acting as if you’re the most important person in the world, giving everyone a headache while you generate instant traffic congestion.

This is a family site, so I can’t tell you how I really feel. But you represent a group of drivers who are the biggest problem on today’s roads. Collectively, you make things much more dangerous than they used to be, which is saying something.

Even though there are ostensibly laws against the likes of you – sometimes involving massive fines – nothing appears to work. You carry on, talking into thin air, jabbering on the phone, disturbing the flow of traffic, creating chaos and just being a monumental pain in the ass to everyone around you.

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Here’s the thing: you just don’t have the necessary eye-hand-ear co-ordination to drive a car and carry on a conversation at the same time, not even if you’re using Bluetooth. In the vast majority of cases, it’s all cellphone users can do just to operate a car with any level of competence without being on the phone at the same time. And, invariably, it seems, those causing havoc and using the phone are the very people who should not be doing it. In particular, young drivers, who seem to think it’s cool to tick people off and act like punks.

Instead of wasting so much energy on speeders, perhaps the government should up the ante and have a harder look at scofflaws who try to drive and talk on cellphones at the same time.

Despite traffic enforcement’s relentless focus on speeders, it’s been my experience that fast drivers are usually attentive and focused on the job at hand.

Cellphone users, on the other hand, are oblivious to the world around them. Whatever you’re yakking about on that phone must be important, because there are a couple of million people out there who would like to take that phone of yours and put it where the sun don’t shine.

I’ve been driving for over 40 years. I’ve never had an accident (though I’ve been hit on two or three occasions), and I’ve taken at least four safe driving courses. I’ve driven high-performance cars on race tracks all over the world and passed my competitors driving test. I consider myself a pretty good driver and it’s only because I pay attention.

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I don’t text, go online, book restaurant reservations, canoodle with my significant other, get directions from Google or carry on a conversation with long-lost friends while I’m driving.

Yet if law enforcement personnel see me stray over the speed limit, they’re on me like gangbusters.

It’s time for a paradigm shift here.

Anyway, before I get too carried away, just listen: it’s dangerous as hell out there – for everyone – and lack of consideration for other drivers can get people killed. Blabbering away on your Bluetooth, cellphone or whatever is unacceptable.

If I was king, I would suspend the driver’s licences of those who persist in putting everyone else’s lives in jeopardy. First offence: $10,000 fine. Second offence: loss of driving privileges for five years. Third offence: jail time.

But there’s an easy way to fix all this: just shut the damn thing off and put it away.

And have a nice day.

Ted Laturnus writes for Troy Media’s Driver Seat Associate website. An automotive journalist since 1976, he has been named Canadian Automotive Journalist of the Year twice and is past-president of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).


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