As mentioned in my previous post on the new California hands free cell phone law, there has been a raging debate over the use of cell phones while driving. I recently participated in a conversation on the subject on the website “Newsvine”, which conversation begins at:
The subject was raised by a user named Dawn-308170, who on Thursday, June 26th, posted a message reading:
I think driving while talking on your cell phone or hands free device should be illegal altogether. If someone gets into an accident while talking on their cell phone or hands free device the penalty should be very steep. If someone is killed and the driver was on the cell phone they should go to jail. When you are drivine a multi ton piece of metal you have to concentrate on the task at hand. That would be your driving. Wake up people. We are becoming a society of ignorant, rude, arrogant human beings who really don’t give a crap about anybody but ourselves. It’s time to wake up and take responsibility for our actions. We did without cell phones and electronic gadgets for how many years?
Not surprisingly, this post generated a blizzard of responses (1168 at the moment I write this). Back and forth the comments went, supporting Dawn and attacking Dawn, sometimes for her opinion, sometimes very personally. And alternately attacking and supporting, as the case might be, those who were supporting and attacking Dawn.
It is not my purpose in mentioning this conversation to re-ignite it here, or even to discuss the pros and cons of the new law. In fact, I probably would not have even joined in the Newsvine conversation had it not been for a single post by a user who mistakenly styles himself Problem Solver. In a fairly lengthy diatribe (you can read his entire rant on the Newsvine page linked above by scrolling down to his post at 12:17 pm on Thursday, June 26th), he said, “I am extremely coordinated, quite bright (take my word for it!)“, then made this extraordinary comment:
You’d better believe I flip them off, yell at them through their window, lay on my horn so they can’t hear, make “blah blah” hands at them, cut them off, brake suddenly or slow to a crawl if they’re behind me – anything to get them off the phone.
Whatever might be the dangers of cell phone use while driving, road rage is far more serious and dangerous. And Problem Solver is a very angry person indeed. I replied to him as follows:
Blowing your horn other than in an emergency is illegal in California. Intentionally cutting someone off is illegal, dangerous and downright stupid! Far more dangerous than talking on the telephone. And if you do that and cause an accident which kills someone, you will be a candidate for state prison. Braking suddenly and without reason is also illegal. If that causes an accident, you will be at fault. Driving too slowly for the conditions on the freeway is also illegal.
So, Mr. Self-Appointed Traffic cop, at least four of your “tactics” for getting people off their cell phones are illegal. And the road rage characteristics of yelling at people, blowing your horn and making “blah-blah” motions with your hands are also distracting YOU from driving safely.
You, Sir, are not at all “quite bright” (take my word for it!). Rather, you are a self-confessed clueless jackass, far more dangerous on the road than most cell phone talking drivers.
Jim Reilly, Novato CA
Problem Solver replied: