Sunday, July 26, 2009

Your Cell Phone Is Killing Me

In the name of all that's holy, will some elected official entrusted with the public's safety; man or woman, Republican or Democrat, local, state, or federal, please find the conscience or the nads to stand up to the telecom industry and propose legislation banning cell phone use while driving? Is this a difficult call to make? Nothing is more personally enraging than to be held up in traffic by some grinning, oblivious, self-absorbed fool, yammering into a cell phone with one hand on the wheel and the other up to an ear, while angered drivers maneuver to pass on the left and right. Don't they still teach Driver's Ed in school? And if so, whatever happened to both hands on the wheel in the ten and two positions? At the risk of sounding curmudgeonly, I believe that cell phone use is a prime contributor to the breakdown of civility in society, but using the dastardly devices while driving a car is simply stupid, and deadly.

Now we discover that, according to the New York Times, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration withheld hundreds of pages of research confirming the deadly results of cell phone use in cars, "because of concerns about angering Congress." The research, begun in 2003, estimated that cellphone use by drivers caused 240,000 accidents and nearly 1000 fatalities in the previous year, and we would never have heard about it had not the Center for Auto Safety petitioned for the findings under the Freedom of Information Act. Clarence Ditlow, the Center's director, said, "We're looking at a problem that could be as bad as drunk driving, and the government has covered it up." Why am I not surprised that the Bush era Transportation Department, under Secretary Norman Mineta, decided to quash the report as "inconclusive?" The Bush team caved-in to every other corporate interest with political donations in hand, why not the cell phone industry too? Ditlow added, "No public health and safety agency should allow its research to be suppressed for political reasons." Can I get a witness?

There are currently fourteen states that ban texting while driving, which is like outlawing mixing cocktails behind the wheel, but only six that forbid yacking.(Current state cell phone and text messaging bans are posted here). The texting ban grew after the April 29, 2009 incident of a bus driver in San Antonio captured on film while he texted his way directly into the rear of several vehicles stopped at a red light. Tennessee has a texting ban, but although they have compiled crash statistics, there is currently no effort to ban hand held devices while driving. There is some irony in the fact that, as a nation, we mourn the brave soldiers, now over 5,000 in number, who have sacrificed their lives in the Bush wars over the past eight years, yet we barely swallow hard over the nearly half million traffic fatalities on our nation's roads annually. It took Mothers Against Drunk Driving to raise public awareness about that deadly behavior, but a University of Utah study comparing 40 volunteer drivers of a "virtual car," discovered that the actual drunks did better than the cell phone users, and that chatting on the cell was the equivalent of registering a .08 on the drunk-o-meter.

I understand that there now exists a "culture of the cell phone" that will be difficult to alter. I carry a cell phone, but I don't answer it if I'm driving, and if I need to make a call, I pull in somewhere and stop. It's not that I'm not smart enough to multi-task, it's that I realize that driving today's roads requires complete attention, if only to protect yourself from some Suburban Assault Vehicle drifting into your lane because the driver is on the phone. Unless you're a doctor or a fireman, aside from a "please pick up some milk on your way home" call, there is no phone message so urgent that it can't wait a few minutes to be answered safely. In Europe and the UK, cell phone use is already banned while driving, so why does it always take this country so long to enact the obvious? I forgot, we disdain European culture. The Old Country takes the matter so seriously that there is a kit for sale that includes a paint-ball gun for drivers to mark the cars of violators when the police aren't around. Of course, anyone around here would have their heads blown off with a real gun by the law-abiding, carry-permit holders who would never allow such an affront to their property. The effete Europeans don't allow guns in cars either, but at least in this country, we're able to call in a shooting with the cell phone that's already in hand.


Anonymous said...

Guns in cars. Guns in church. Guns in hospitals. Guns tucked into pants so that they are invisible to the unsuspecting fools around us. Who knows when we might have to blow someone's brains out? You lookin at me? Itz mah cuntry. Ah got rahhts. Ah think Ah'll pick mahself up a AK-47 juss to show. You know. Nobody gonna fuck with me.

So, the question for the day is:
In which country on this planet will someone invent a cell phone that can also spit out 300 rounds a minute of soft nosed lead ?.....and here's the second more difficult part of the question. Ready? Which country will, after inventing said device, make sure that every high school and college kid has one at all parties that they might attend on the weekend....because, hey we got amendments in our Constitootion that tell us we can.

Is it Naked Gorillia? Is it Soutern Hysteria? Is it "this land was made for you and me?"

kimk said...

Since RJ was so astute as to link The Kid From Brooklyn it was a no-brainer to check if the Big Man had an opinion or two on cell phones:
One Here
Another Here
and possibly related:
This One
And This

Anonymous said...

Yes Mr & Ms Driver, now you can "See the USA in your Chevrolet". Your choice of the following up-grades: Blue Tooth, Blue Balls or Blue Steel. Just keep that motor mouth go'in, you'll meet your maker soon enough.

By the way, keep those damn cell phones out of restaurants as well. Hopefully, restauranteur's will install scramblers and we won't have to be an involuntary party to a conversation we don't want to listen to in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Cell phone, Smell phone,They all suck and when it's your son or daughter that gets screwed up in a wreck because the "other driver" was chatting away, maybe we'll all get mad enough to do something about it. Don't ya just love the MADD moms? Now we need MACPIC-- "Moms against cell phones in cars." Hell I'll start the club, ya'll ready?

Jim said...

On a related note, perhaps you've seen this:larrydavid


Bob said...

I have almost been killed by drivers using cell phones who just managed to stop while I was making a turn. Urban assault vehicles is the term to use and what happened to the high gas prices that was keeping them off the roads and onto dealers lots.
The use of these items by teens is asking for trouble as they have a tendency to use them constantly and to binge drink pretty damned often. I am an alcoholic and I have seen a lot at meetings and I can state for a fact that young people cannot handle alcohol nor responsibility.
I do not hesitate to say that young boys (they are not nearly men yet) nor girls (same about women) become deadly weapons behind the wheel of autos and using cell phones.
Great topic Randy.
Keep on keepin on.
Bob Weymouth '65


Hey! Somebody turn on the smell checker cuz sumpen stinks in the River City & I'm not talking about Frayser! Is this the same Randy "LIVE WITHOUT A NET" Haspel! Terror of Midtown Memphis! Ah yeah? That's because you had a bodyguard named Sputnik Monroe always to intervene & protect your singing/ song writing Sun Label Sissy Boy buttocks. Hell! Your still hiding behind his name. You big PUSCHKA! The truth is... if your Bodyguard Sputnik was alive today..He'd be driving down Beale St. with one leg hanging out the window...a cold beer between his legs...a pistol on the dashboard...a chick under his right shoulder And a cell phone to his ear yammering at Billy Wicks about a rematch! He wouldn't be wearing a seat belt because he would of torn that out to tie up any red neck that got in his way to only throw him on the bumper! Hey Little Sputnik! I know your kind! You are trying to take away all our liberties! Take a way our guns? How in the hell do you expect to be waited on at Robilio's? Now you want to take away our cell phones! How about this! I once was driving down Poplar Ave. listening to the Radiants singing about The Vultures Of Love! I was so into the song I ran right through a red light... hit a back side of a beer truck...crashed through my wind shield and landed in a car load of Iranians in a Corvette convertible which opened up a can of whup ass! Check that one off for the USA! So I had a wreck! Are you going to take away my Radiants? Are you going to take away my CD player? Are you going to take away my ears? Are you going to give me a lobotomy? What's arfing next? Don't get me wrong? I know A cell phone can be annoying! Some dope was talking so loud on his cell at Patrick's that I turned his cell phone into a butt plug! Though no longer a hand held he still has his phone! It must have been on vibrate because he had the weirdest grin on his face!

SIREEN said...

That Jackie Fargo has proven once again what a big goof ball of a fool he is! What are you talking about ...a smell checker! You are the King of Stank! You leave Randy alone. What he says makes perfect sense. You ought to be glad the Spudman is looking out for you! Good job Randy! Beat it Fargo! There! I said it! Thank you Jesus! Yours truly! Sireen

Father Farken said...

May G*d bless the BAH Community! As some of you know I have left my post in New Jersey to take a position as the Nashville Czar of Spirituality. As my first responsibility as Nashville Czar I feel that its my duty to call a Memphis Summit. I would like to invite Jackie Fargo, Sireen and the talented Mr. Haspel to discuss this matter of cell phone use while driving... and to do so over a beer. Like our beloved president I am always good for a beer! We could meet at the Memphis White House...The P & H Cafe (aka The Poor & Hungry Cub). Like Club Paradise...All weapons must be checked at the door! To be sure no one acts "stupidly" we will remember the words of the late Momma Jo Patton "All things are to be done in moderation...but sometimes even moderation must be taken in moderation"! After our meeting we will meet @ St. Hughie's for Vespers. I will contact Bobby Weymouth to be designated driver. Go In piss..uh...Peace! Fr.Farkin