Other Voices: Special driving test needed for cell phone users
I am suddenly convinced that drivers should not use a cell phone unless licensed to do so.
I recently observed a frightening yet intriguing phenomenon in my rear view mirror. On my way to a project at a client’s home, I was approaching a toll booth when my engine died six car lengths back from the pay window.
It would not start and for almost 15 minutes I waved traffic around me while awaiting assistance from CalTrans. Ninety percent or more of my fellow drivers heeded my signals. Six of them did not and each of those who did not, pulled up to within three feet of my bumper and sat there, one for nearly three minutes as I continued making “go around” signals with my hand. I was making circles in the air with my left arm out the window to help people see and get around my stalled truck.
The notable issue in each of the six cases of drivers who both missed my signals and the fact that every car in front of them had gone around my stalled vehicle; they were on their cell phones. In fairness many who did see my signals and quickly responded were also using their phones. My observation is that not every driver goes brain dead while using a cell phone, but too many do!
Finally, a CalTrans push truck arrived. It was a very large six wheel service truck, not a pick up! One driver, directly behind me and temporarily struck brain dead by his cell phone, did not see my signals or the monster truck with a roof full of rotating red lights behind him.
I finally had to get out of my vehicle, stand by my rear bumper, and with exaggerated motions, signaled the telephone with a human sticking out of it to drive around me. He looked at me like a deer in the high beams and finally leaned out the window asking, “ya broke down?”
“NO, I shouted, I am out here testing my traffic directing skills and the huge orange truck with the flashing red lights behind you is just testing his patience with cell phone users … get your $$#@$## car in gear and get out of here.”
Finally, looking in the rear view mirror, the “phone/man assembly” returned to the same astral plane most of us were on at the moment and motored off. The CalTrans truck driver efficiently took care of business and life quickly went back to normal for me.
I am a changed man. I won’t go so far as to suggest that cell phones should be banned in cars. I would, however, promote testing to see if a person can walk and chew gum or perhaps rub their belly and pat their head before eligibility is granted to use a cell phone while driving.
A permit would be granted to purchase a chip for their phone that would make it compatible with a second chip that must be installed in their car(s). This, would insure the rest of us that they can be trusted to use a phone while driving.
I believe the test could easily be created and administered by approved and licensed administrators. Unfortunately, this means more government, an item that is anathema to me, however, lives are at stake and the prime function of government is to protect us, is it not?
This clearly could be another path to world of wealth for a brilliant “X” generation entrepreneur and a lot of lives would certainly be saved.
I would hate to find that I did not qualify, however, in all my driving experience I can honestly say that whenever a cell phone was pressed to one of my ears, I did not fail to notice what the traffic in front and behind me was doing.
Now that I have seen a clear demonstration that some drivers completely ignore obvious and significant conditions on the road when they are on their cell phone, I am ready to support a law for licensing only those who can prove an ability to handle it be allowed to use a phone while driving. Any takers?
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