Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Driving Plus Distractions Equal Disaster

Imagine baseball star Albert Pujols taking a book with him as a stepped in to bat against fireballing lefthander Randy Johnson. Imagine Pujols holding the book in one hand and glancing at it repeatedly as he tried to make contact with one of Johnson's 95-mph fastballs.

How many spectators would think Pujols had lost his mind? All of them? How many spectators would think Pujols was using a smart strategy? None of them?

So why do we seem to think it's OK to talk on cell phones and fiddle with text messages while driving?

Common sense should tell us that distracted driving is stupid and dangerous. We shouldn't need piles of evidence to tell us that. But the evidence is mounting anyway. Just consider two stories from one recent edition of my local newspaper:

* Carlos Serrano, a businessman and exercise enthusiast, was killed on his bicycle in Huntsville, Alabama, by a driver reaching for her cell phone.

* Nicholas Sparks, a tow-truck driver in Lockport, New York, was texting on one cell phone and talking on another when he slammed into a car and crashed into a swimming pool. No one has died from the incident--yet. But the driver of the car suffered head injuries.

A study released last week by Virginia Tech University used sobering statistics to show just how dangerous distracted driving can be.

Legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate last week that seeks a ban on texting while driving.

How many more people have to die or be gravely injured before Americans start to take distracted driving seriously.

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