The topic I chose is one that's especially high on my "don't do it" list. This is a letter written to Dear Abby concerning 5 teens who were killed because the driver was using a cell phone to text message while driving. Yes, for my regular readers, this is another cell phone thing. SMILE! I suppose that I've kind of got a double standard when it comes to the use of cell phones and driving, and this may make me sound pathetic, but I've got to say it anyway.
I rely on other's driving so much for my transportation, and every time I get into a vehicle, I'm trusting that person to get me to and from my destination safely. If I know the person, and if I'm comfortable with that person, I trust that they'll be safe with me. However, when it comes to taxis and people that I just don't know very well, I feel completely different. Okay, so here's another story.
About five and a half years ago I was living in an area that had really gone downhill. I decided that I just had to make a Wal-Mart run because I needed some things. Everything went well on the way there. I got my shopping done and called my cab to go back home. The cab pulled up and I got in. The driver was in the middle of, (I'm sure), a very important conversation and couldn't be bothered to hang up his phone while driving. The area that I was living in had some really weird street numbering, and there were a couple of them that were kind of named the same; for example, we had 15th Street and 15th Place, and had to pass them both to get to 14th street where I lived. The driver, apparently more caught up in his conversation about whatever, saw the street sign for 16th which was a lighted intersection and started counting streets. He pulled up in front of what I assumed was my home. I paid him since that's pretty much the expected thing to do when one rides in a cab, and got out. Immediately he pulled away. It was then that I realized that I was most definitely not in front of my home.
So, here it is, probably close to 8:30 at night, I was alone, and I had absolutely no idea where I was. I had my cell phone, but how do you make a call to someone telling them that you have no idea where you are? Milwaukee isn't a small town after all. As I stood there, trying to figure out what I was going to do, a lady came up to me and asked me if I needed help. I explained the situation to her and she told me where I was. I would have been perfectly happy to walk home on my own, but she offered to walk me the extra block to see that I made it home safely.
This incident could have been avoided if the driver had taken a few minutes to pay attention to his surroundings and to the fact that he had a passenger who was relying on him to be accurate. If I'd been able to see the road signs, and/or the houses in that area I could have called him on his mistake, but I was literally completely dependent on him. I reported the incident to the cab company, but they don't have any kind of policy about drivers on cell phones. What worries me is that this driver could have done this again, and the results may not have been so good. I often wonder if anything would have happened to that driver if I'd been hurt because of his negligence, but I somehow have my doubts.
So, as much as there are those that I trust to be on their phones while driving, there's one thing above all else that I'd love to say to anyone who'd listen. The ability to drive is a privilege. It's a privilege that I think most people don't even think twice about. Cell phones have made our lives so much easier in so many ways. Unfortunately though, the combination of driving while talking and/or texting is incredibly scary, both for passengers and even pedestrians. Wisconsin doesn't have a law about using cell phones while driving, but if they did, I honestly think that I'd be in full support of it. If you're a driver, stop and think for a second, is this call absolutely necessary for me to make right now? And, most importantly, if I make this call, am I going to be less likely to pay attention to my driving? Lives are so much more important in the long run than the date you're planning for later this evening. Is it really worth it?