Let’s end phone use in moving vehicles

There is a lot of back-and-forth finger-pointing on these opinion pages that does nothing but waste time and ink. I feel that we could be much more productive by focusing on current issues that need to be addressed and sorting out how to address them.

For example, I have a five-minute commute to the grocery store from my house. On the way up U.S. 13, I noticed a car ahead of me slowly drifting into my lane as I was overtaking it. I cautiously slowed down because I was unsure of what the other driver was doing. After drifting halfway into my lane, the other driver finally realized where he was and jerked his car back into his lane.

Seeing my chance, I pulled up next to him to see what was happening. The other driver was looking down at his phone in his lap. For a few seconds, I tried to get his attention, but he never did look up. I kept moving past him to avoid another dangerous situation since he was still not watching the road. Before I got to my destination, I saw three other drivers doing the same thing — head down, no idea of their surroundings. This is all in a span of vi d minutes!

Upon arriving at the grocery store, I placed my toddler a shopping cart in the parking lot and headed towards the store. Walking towards the crosswalk, I noticed a truck barreling towards us. Assuming he would slow down to let us through — as directed by the stop sign — I kept walking. After noticing that the truck was still gaining speed instead of slowing down, I quickly pulled my cart and my toddler back into the parking lot.

Unbelievably, this driver was also looking down at his phone as he passed us — right in front of the store and right through the stop sign! He had no idea that he was moments away from killing us both.

Here is my obvious point: a law banning cell-phone use for drivers is well-intended but useless. Laws do nothing to stop people who are addicted to something — which is exactly what describes many people and their phones. They are too weak to use simple common sense and would rather risk their lives and ours to do something that is dangerous and completely unnecessary while behind the wheel. If you are texting and driving, you are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash. Distracted driving is now causing 80 percent of the collisions in this country and killing thousands of people each year. I wonder what is so distracting to drivers these days?

If we are serious about stopping this growing problem, laws trying to stop people from using their phones are not the answer. Phone use in moving vehicles must be made impossible. It would be very easy to have a signal blocker installed and be part of the ignition sequence when starting a car. With a signal blocker in the middle of a car and with a six-foot radius, cell-phone use in a car would be effectively controlled. No calls, no texts, and no Internet signal. Inconvenient for everyone in the car? Yes. But more importantly — our roads would be much safer.

If there would be an emergency need to use a cell phone, the driver can easily pull into a gas station and make a quick call or type out a text. Everything else can wait. Believe it or not, the world will not end if you can’t get phone service for a few minutes!

A company called Try Safety First has developed a product that would do this exact thing. Currently, it is being marketed to parents of teenagers. However, none of the drivers that I saw on the way to the grocery store that day were teenagers. This must be mandatory for everyone and every vehicle. Until it is, brace yourself for the impending collision with a distracted driver.

Josh Judy
Greenwood

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