Distracted to death: A plague for our time

  • Article by: DAN K. THOMASSON , Scripps Howard News Service
  • Updated: November 27, 2012 - 8:26 PM

My brother and the driver of the vehicle that hit him were talking on their phones when the fatal accident occurred.

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swmnguyNov. 27, 12 9:38 PM

I'm sorry about the author's brother, and everyone else who is killed by this insanity.

Every single day I have to alter my driving because of somebody gabbing away on the phone, oblivious to what is going on around them while they drive. I don't always have to take evasive action, but seriously, every day some driver near me in traffic does something weird, and they're always on the phone when they do it. And I don't even drive that much.

Some people actually argue that it is an invasion of their rights to tell them they can't talk on the phone while driving. I suppose they'd be upset if their dentist was on the phone while drilling their teeth, and they're not going to die from dental pain.

I wouldn't be opposed to a mandatory device in cars that disrupts cell signals in a 3 foot radius from the ignition switch while the key is in the "on" position.

In not too long, talking or texting while driving will be considered the same as driving drunk. As a driver, from what I see on the roads every day, it's the same thing.

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jimmybeeNov. 27, 12 9:48 PM

The penalty should be the same as drunk driving, because the amount of impairment and the level of selfishness needed are the same as drunk driving. I sold my motorcycle after almost being killed by a thoughtless driver engrossed in a phone conversation and not watching traffic as I was forced onto the median. When you are operating a motor vehicle it is your obligation to give all of your attention to the task of driving and not be texting or talking on the phone or eating a bowl of cereal or putting on your makeup or shaving, all things I have seen people do while driving.

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erikj3Nov. 28, 12 1:09 AM

I'm constantly astonished at the level to which many people cocoon themselves in a digital device world, completely oblivious to their surroundings (especially in an urban area, you should be aware of what is going on around you at all times). The worst is people who talk on the phone while driving: If you feel a call is SO important you need to endanger yourself and other drivers, PULL OVER! It's not worth dying or killing someone to discuss with your friend where you're going to meet for dinner!

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ronf528Nov. 28, 12 1:10 AM

I too sympathize with the author, and unfortunately I've known and read about many that have suffered through the same pain. And therein lies a tragedy waiting for any one of us. We read about these events - senseless deaths due to drunk or distracted driving. We read about the cases in detail, then later the trials, and how tearful the defendants are, and how sorry they are, and how they didn't mean to hurt anyone, and how they'd give anything to turn back time. Then some of the people who read these gut wrenching stories in the paper, while thinking they're "not that kind of person" get behind the wheel of a car, while drunk or talking/texting on a cell phone, and then become the next story. And on and on it goes. And it will never change unless something active is done. Education, while helpful, is only a passive solution. We haven't been able [willing] to stop drunk driving since the first car rolled out of the Ford plant. Anyone who owns a cell phone knows the dangers of using it while driving. If you cause an injury or death, you should be prosecuted as if you had taken a loaded gun to the mall and started firing at random.

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tjtjtjNov. 28, 12 1:41 AM

People have every right to talk on their phone and text someone else - AS LONG AS THEY ARE NOT OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE.

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comment229Nov. 28, 12 5:32 AM

When I took driver's ed in school many years ago, the focus was driving defensively and I still remember and use ALL the lessons I learned back then. Today, people treat driving as such a shallow responsibility until that moment. I too have the same experiences. Someone does something stupid (no other word for it) and 99% of the time, there is a cell phone in their ear. When is the state or federal government going to stop this? Maybe it will take an insurance company initiative that states in the policy that they will not cover anything related to an accident while someone is on the cell phone. I don't know, but it has got to stop.

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comment229Nov. 28, 12 5:35 AM

Maybe a little unrelated, but cell phone abuse is not only rampant in cars. Ever walked into a parts store, and start in with your order to the partsman, only to have the phone ring, he answers it, and helps the guy on the phone, while you stand there? I used to... don't any more... I walk out immediately when he does this. It has also happened is casual conversations, as you sit there, talking to a friend, his/her phone rings and you sit there like a dork listening to their conversation. The solution? I let mine RING and let voice mail take over....

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nonewtaxesNov. 28, 12 5:44 AM

It would be simple to incorporate an interlock into the electronics of the vehicle that would cause the air bags to detonate if the phone is used for texting while the car is moving. This would end the problem.

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salskogNov. 28, 12 6:31 AM

Honk if you love Jesus, text if you want to meet him!

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FrankLNov. 28, 12 6:44 AM

Its not the cell phone use per se, but how it is used. Yes, I use my cell phone in the car to the tune of several minutes per month. Where I see the problem is the people (like my wife), who get into deep conversations on the phone to the point where driving becomes secondary.

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