Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Are They Really to Blame?

Recently there is a lot of talk in Colorado about making talking on your cell phone and driving illegal unless you're using a hands-free device. From my own personal observations I have to wonder, ARE CELL PHONES REALLY TO BLAME? Ok... in some cases yes, but read on.

I drive about 17 miles one way twice a day to get to work and home again. I drive quite a bit around town for extra curricular activities as well. All in all I drive about 250+/- miles a week. It has been my observation that people have forgotten how to drive; they've forgotten the rules of the road (myself included sometimes!!!).

Here are a few examples:

1. When I leave my home and go to the main thoroughfare, I am entering a 3-lane roadway from a 4-way intersection. The other day, I was making my usual right tun on to the roadway. The traffic from the opposite direction had the green light and arrow. To go the same direction I was going there is a double left turn. I went ahead and made my right turn into the nearest lane on the right. One of the drivers making a left proceeded to make his turn and turn in to MY LANE and then proceeded to shout at me and throw hands and fingers at me indicating I was in the wrong. Hello Fellow Driver... YOU WERE WRONG. You should have been in the MIDDLE lane not the right lane. As far as I know there was no reason that I should not have been making my right turn while the oncoming traffic was making their left turns... 3 lanes, 3 cars. Anyone disagree?

2. What are those sticks/knobs on the left side of the steering column? HELLO! They are TURN SIGNAL INDICATORS!!! USE THEM!!! I see so many people on the highways and byways continually changing lanes and never using their turn signals or not using them long enough. Here is what the COLORADO DMV DRIVER HANDBOOK says about how long you should signal:
  • In urban or metropolitan areas, you must signal
    continuously for 100 feet before making a turn or a
    lane change.
  • At speeds above 40 m.p.h. you must signal
    continuously for 200 feet before making a turn or
    lane change.

What people don't realize is if they would use their turn signals they may have an easier time of making those lane changes. I for one do watch for those signals and (if I the person hasn't already ticked me off!) if possible I will try to back off and let them pull over in front of me.

3. When someone in front of you is trying to make a lane change or turn, don't ride up on their tail end. Not only does it make people mad, but you're risking an accident if the person in front has to stop suddenly. Just this morning someone did this to me. I was making a lane change and because traffic was slow, I had to slow down to get over. The person in the other lane was kind enough to let me over, but the person behind me was right on my bumper. As I finished the lane change, the person behind me went zipping around and did his own lane change two cars ahead of me. Funny thing is we both continued down the highway and he ended up behind me by the time I exited anyway. So... how far did your little race get ya Bud?

4. The really big one is... what do you do when an emergency is approaching? So many people just don't even pay attention. Here is what the COLORADO DMV DRIVER HANDBOOK says:

You must yield the right-of-way to all emergency vehicles using a siren, air horn, and/or flashing red, blue or white lights. Where possible, you must pull over to the right edge of the road. If you are in an intersection, drive through the intersection before you pull over. On a roadway with two or more lanes traveling in the same direction, if you are approaching an emergency vehicle that has stopped along the side of the road, when possible you must leave at least one lane between your vehicle and the emergency vehicle by changing lanes, unless directed otherwise by a police officer or emergency personnel or conditions prohibit the lane change. If the road only has one lane on your side, or you cannot change lanes, slow down to a safe speed and use due care and caution as you pass.

So, back to cell phones and driving... I'm sorry but there are some people that should not do anything but drive when they are in the driver's seat... don't talk to passengers, don't mess with the radio, don't discipline your child, don't even scratch your nose! They just are not capable of multi-tasking even in the simplest of forms. YES, I do agree that the cell phones can be distracting (and I admit that I do drive and talk on the cell phone), but use good judgement people. For instance, if the drive is treacherous... bad weather, horrible traffic, whatever, HANG UP AND DRIVE!!! People need to take responsibility for themselves and their abilities, or lack their of. Again, use good judgement.

It will be interesting to see what happens with this law. One point that I do agree with is that teen drivers will not be allowed to drive and talk on the cell phones at all, hands-free or not. They do not have enough experience to be able to handle that. Tackle one thing at a time. One point that I'm have a hard time with is the fact that on-duty law enforcement and safety personnel will be exempt from this law. How do we know that they are not on personal calls as they are driving down the road in their patrol vehicles and/or other emergency vehicles? I realize they use the cell phones as part of their job, but it just sticks in my "craw."

And one last thing... how is a hands-free device any safer than just talking on the phone itself? You're still talking and not focusing all of your attention on driving, you're just not holding it in your hand...

So get out there and BE SAFE!!!


Lori said...

What a great refresher! It's been awhile since I've actually read the state driving handbook.

Seems like there are other distractions besides cell phones that we allow -- radio station switching, handing sippy cups to toddlers, chatting with a passenger, eating, and (I've never done this) putting on makeup.

The question is, how much should we legislate? And where do we draw the line?

Roo said...

I've never done the makeup thing either Lori! I actually saw a woman once driving down the road drying her hair with the heat vents!!!

StaceyC4 said...

Amen, sister!! It is mind boggling to me to be on the road some days and just see what is going on around me! Why do we even bother taking driving tests/road tests when it is all forgotten as soon as you leave the DMV?