The newspapers are replete with scores of vehicular accidents. One reads of how a delivery van careens off the railing of a skyway and lands on top of a passenger bus underneath, crushing several people to death. Another article will be about a cargo truck losing its brakes and running through the red light at a busy intersection and in the process slams broadside into private vehicle. Still another might be of an SUV that crashes against a flimsy construction barrier and lands into a deep excavation …. Poor maintenance, lack of defensive driving skills, and carelessness probably account for these accidents.
Now, another one can be added to this list of causes: driving while using a cell phone. This is about as commonplace as finding chewing gum under a movie theater seat but certainly, much more dangerous. Availability has determined usage; if it is there – even while driving – use it, is the motto. One wonders how the ‘’civilized’’ world fared without the cell phone. But for some reason or another it did. It was not too long ago that the Spanish galleons took over 3 months of sailing to deliver a letter from Spain to the colonies.
And how the roundtrip – the time it took for this same letter to be answered – might have taken anywhere from 6 months to a year. Fast forward to today and the thought of leaving a ringing cell phone unanswered for a few minutes– even while driving – is unthinkable. One can argue that the case against using cell phones while driving is exaggerated; after all there are ‘’hands-free’’ cell phones that allow one to use the cell phone and drive at the same time. We are, after all, multi-taskers, it is argued. While this facility is available, how many do in fact use ‘’hands-free’’ cell phoning.
Next time you are on the expressway or freeway, check. While you are at this, also find out how many use the cell phones: those coming at you, those to your left, those to your right, those behind you. Is it 1 in 10? 2 in 10? More? Actuarial scientists will probably advise you to raise your insurance coverage or perhaps even suggest that you start taking another form of transportation (e. g. the subway or some such) even if 1 in 10 of these motorists used the cell phone while driving. It might be argued that the ‘’risk’’ of getting into a vehicular accident while using the cell phone is over-rated?
Is it? Consider the statistics: how fast is the average speed on an expressway? How many are using cell phones? How many seconds – or micro-seconds – does it take to initiate an accident? If the answers are that the average speed on an expressway is 60 mph, that at any given time there are more than 1 in 10 using a cell phone and that accidents can occur in the blink of an eye…well the answer becomes deathly obvious. An act that has previously been regarded as a remote possibility now assumes the prospect of a distinct probability.
All too often, when we read of these things we deal with them by insulating ourselves with anesthetic reassurances that the likelihood is remote, that this are the dire warnings of alarmists, that it cannot happen to us – after all, we are not as ‘’careless’’ as the others. All that can be said in answer to this is that do not let the morgues and cemeteries get crowded with like-minded motorists. It is not too late to stop using the cell phone while driving. Resist answering that phone; it is probably not that important. It can wait. Your life and those of others depend on it