Is that phone call worth the trouble?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Summer comes with a great many distractions for the average driver. If it isn't the sunlight glaring off of the hood of your car and into your eyes, it's the bathing suit-clad

young beauty strolling down the sidewalk on her way to the pool. Children dart after balls or each other without bothering to watch for cars. Beach paraphernalia rolls in the back seat, occasionally sliding underfoot.

While make difficult driving conditions worse?

Hang up the phone.

We have, in just two days, witnessed not one, but four drivers entering the square - always a task that demands full attention - with their cell phones glued to their ears. What is worse, because we can understand the need (or compulsion) to answer the phone whenever it rings, these drivers were initiating the calls. One was guiding the steering wheel with her elbow as she punched the numbers in. Another neatly cut off two other drivers, blithely

moving from one lane to the next, never checking for oncoming traffic, but keying in a phone number on his cell phone all the while.

Cell phones have a place and purpose. In these days of hectic work schedules and on-the-road lifestyles, they are essential to the lifestyles and welfare many people. but there is a time and place to use one, and a way to use one, that won't threaten the lifestyles, if not the lives, of others.

Pull over to the side of the road or into a parking lot when you have to make a call, or are receiving one. If you can't pull over, use your caller ID or voice mail option to note who the caller is, and call them back. Even if it is an emergency that is prompting the call, don't double it by creating another emergency of your own. If you are on long, safe stretches of road, such as the interstate, use a headset so both hands are still free for driving.

We will hear arguments about their convenience, and how much they are needed for family and for work. We will have to ask

- how convenient is a fender bender on the town square? Does your family need the phones, or you , healthy and whole at the end of the day, and not the victim of a cell-phone caused accident.