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Cellular Telephone Use
While Operating a Vehicle

by Ralph F. Mariano, Editor
STReport Online


01/09/98 - 06/25/2003

Where are the "Control Freaks" when you NEED them?? I’ll wager I know. They’re busy yapping on a Cellphone while on the road; driving on the streets, highways, Freeways, and Expressways of our Nation. Here’s a wonderful opportunity for all the "Control Freaks" in Government to do the right thing. Its has become extremely dangerous driving these days watching the plethora of fools with Cellphones crammed to their ears with one hand while driving along at fifty to seventy five miles per hour.

This past week, (01/05/98) I had the "rude awakening." I was driving on I-95 in Jacksonville Florida, southbound just past Bay Meadows Road when I spotted this relatively slow moving late model Ford Explorer drubbing along in the left lane.  As car after car was forced to pass this SOB on the right, I slowly moved up to pass this vehicle on the right myself. Once along side this vehicle, I peered over to see just what we were dealing with. Friends, I was SHOCKED! I had all to do to stop from pulling in front of this inconsiderate clown and bringing the whole thing to a halt!  This bonehead was actually talking on his cellphone, holding it to his ear with his shoulder and reading something cradled in the steering wheel, holding it and the wheel with both hands... all while moving along at approximately forty miles per hour in the, high speed, left lane on Interstate 95!  Where the heck are the Cops when you really need them?

While some may try saying cellphone yapping while driving is an isolated incident; It is NOT by a longshot!  It is, by far, more the norm than most are willing to admit. Anywhere you drive its almost a lock that within fifteen minutes or less you’ll come upon one or more slow moving cellphone Yappers driving along apparently oblivious to others around them along with the traffic problems and dangers they are causing.

While motor vehicles are not ordinarily considered to be weapons... in this deadly scenario they become a projectile of five thousand pounds of steel and glass traveling at a high rate of speed with little or no responsible guidance. I’ve actually seen cars swerving in and out of their lane because one of these clowns dropped the cellphone they were bleating on while driving.

Better yet.... to watch an individual, while driving along Jacksonville Florida's crowded San Jose Blvd.., gesturing with one hand while holding the cellphone to an ear with the other hand in the course of a rather animated conversation is a real mind-blower. How is the steering wheel being controlled?? Auto-Pilot?  No, a knee is pressed against the bottom of the steering wheel by our more adept motorists.

It only takes a split second distraction to cause a deadly vehicular accident. Knowing what I’ve seen so far, I cringe at the thought of what the high tech equipment manufacturers are about to release. How about a combo cellphone, newscaster, autoPC, weather caster, Emailer and GPS (Ground Positioning Satellite Receiver) in an "all in one" dashboard unit? This one is deadly! It has something to distract every driver!! (On display at the Vegas CES Show) We NEED legislation NOW!

Control Freaks, Congress Critters, State Senators, Reps and Council Members... PLEASE enact emergency legislation making it at least  misdemeanor or greater to drive while either talking on a Cellphone that is not totally hands free and/or manipulating, operating, reading or viewing anything. This should be an infraction that carries as stiff a penalty as DUI because the results from doing so can be just as deadly.




A few weeks ago, I made mention of the life threatening dangers posed by those fools who insist upon yapping on a Cellphone while they are driving. Today, while proceeding southbound on San Jose Boulevard (Kamikaze Boulevard, Jacksonville, FL), I saw what could have easily been the net result of these selfish inconsiderate cellphone yapping dolts.

It took almost three quarters of an hour to reach the accident site which was just before Bay Meadows Road. I had just passed the junction of Old Saint Augustine Road and San Jose Boulevard. Friends, there were three automobiles involved. In my opinion all three were totaled. One car was sitting up on the right shoulder of the road resting on top of the privacy fence in someone’s backyard, the rear was smashed, the front was hit so hard the bumper and nose assembly were laying in the road some twenty feet away from the car. Another car was literally "T-Boned" (nailed dead center on one side between the front and rear seats) This one was horrible looking. The third one had no rear end and no front end, all there was to be clearly seen was the passenger compartment.

The real shocker was obvious out in the middle of all this vehicular carnage, there... in plain view, laying in the road was one of those Cellphones!  Now, I don’t know if it was in use at the time of the collision. Nor do I know to what extent the occupants of the cars were injured but I do know this much. On any given day, one need only drive for about five minutes and its certain you’ll come across a "Cellphone Yapper." Yapping away ...completely oblivious to the fact they’re obstructing the free flow of traffic and/or are so distracted as to be a deadly endangerment  to those trying to drive safely avoiding or getting around them.

Please folks; for your sake, mine and everyone else’s make a PIA of yourself with your local political Rep. Please ask for legislation making it a offense with points assessed on the license for operating a motor vehicle while using/talking on a cellphone. Who knows, the life you save may be one of your own family members, yourself or me!  Help me with this one.  It screams for immediate attention. Send a copy of this editorial to your City Council Members... Congress Critters and the Governor.... they'll act on it unless of course, they too, are among the inconsiderate "Cellphone Yappers."

A rapid and conclusive STOP must be put to the blathering on Cellphones, reading and/or playing with gadgets while operating a moving vehicle. Is it going to take multiple tragic deaths on the road where its proven these acts, including the use of a Cellphone by the vehicle operator while underway is at fault?? I hope and pray not. Nobody should have to die to get this legislation enacted. In fact, a recent study has established that the distraction levels of cellphone use while driving approach, if not exceed, that of driving under the influence...

Officials Want States to Report Crashes

WASHINGTON 06/25/2003 - In an effort to track accidents caused by cell phone use, highway officials are encouraging states to report when crashes are caused by distracted drivers.

Under new guidelines issued Tuesday, police are being asked to say whether the driver was distracted and if that distraction was caused by a cell phone, a radio, another passenger, another vehicle or something else.  States are asked to collect a total of 111 pieces of information from each crash under voluntary guidelines jointly developed by federal highway safety agencies and the Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway officials.

Almost all states use some form of the voluntary crash reporting guidelines, which were first issued five years ago to help standardize crash reports so it's easier to compare data from state to state. The data can then be used to determine accident trends and develop laws to reduce traffic deaths. So far, New York is the only state to ban drivers from using cell phones, and safety officials are debating whether there's enough data for other states to follow. Only 16 states now collect data on cell phone usage after a crash, GHSA executive director Barbara Harsha said.

"We really don't have any idea as to the scope of the driver distraction problem," Harsha said.

The other major change to the guidelines issued Tuesday is the type of crash that is considered reportable.

Under the 1998 guidelines, states were encouraged to report any accident that involved an injury or a towed vehicle. Highway safety officials found requiring states report crashes that cause a $1,000 minimum property damage standard would capture a wider variety of crashes


"Driving a car is a serious responsibility that requires the attention, the full attention, of the driver."  Using a cell phone while driving is "an enormous threat to public safety," ..New York Gov. Pataki says

Friends... please write, call, pummel your political reps and ask for help! We NEED legislation NOW!

New York State did the right thing and enacted Legislation... so can Florida and every other State.  That is, if their elected leaders really do care about their constituents.  After all, it's only about saving lives.

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