Hang up and drive

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 29, 2002

Stand on a street corner and count the number of drivers talking on their cell phones as they navigate traffic.

Be prepared to count every other vehicle.

Recently, one town became the first to outlaw the use of cell phones while driving, It was no coincidence that this was the first town to mandate seatbelts. This is a town that cares for its citizens. Another town passed a law against it when a two-year-old girl was killed by a driver who ran a red light while talking on a cell phone. What a shame she had to die for the law to be passed - but perhaps her sacrifice will save another child at another intersection. We know of one woman who was almost killed when she was broadsided by a cell phone user. The driver was assaulted by the victim's husband when she approached the wreck, phone still in hand, and asked if she should call the police.

The police pressed charges - against the driver.

We understand the need for communication in these busty days, when every minute is slotted on the daily planner. But we also understand that the phone companies offer caller ID, paging and answering services. There are earphone kits that allow the driver to keep both hands on the wheel, but this does not remove the fact that the driver's attention is split between maneuvering a vehicle and carrying on a conversation. Once behind the wheel, the driver should be focusing only on the road.

We are not calling for an out-and-out law forbidding the use of cell phones while driving - yet. What we are calling for is caution and common sense. We are asking these drivers to pull off of the road if they feel they must take their calls. When the phone rings, weigh this question in your mind - can the caller's information be more valuable than the life of another human being?