Brittle Skillet

Sparks of passion and items of interest.

Posts Tagged ‘Death

Phone and Crash: Driving While Distracted

with one comment


Updated Aug 27, 2009
Updated Aug 25, 2009
Updated Aug 13, 2009

I have a simple request for every human on our planet: no driving while distracted.

Is it really necessary to be talking on the phone or texting at the very same time you drive from here to there? If you must talk right now, if the conversation cannot wait till your vehicle has come to a complete stop (for the duration of the conversation), then pull over.

This is a matter of life and death. It’s as significant as drinking and driving. The severity of the situation is eloquently explained and supported in William Saletan’s article Driving While Interrogated on He includes quoted information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in a never-released draft of proposed policy.

I realize it’s easier to suggest pulling over for a phone call than it is in actual practice — there isn’t always a safe and convenient place to pull over. But that’s only one of the suggestions that Saletan makes in his article. In fact, he provides four reasonably conceived solutions that could be effective with enforcement. Well, that’s my opinion. He’s not so sure himself.

Here in Seattle, we do have a not-so-effective hands-free law, which states that you must be using a hands-free technology when phoning while driving. The irritatingly amusing thing is that no one seems to have gotten the memo. It’s illegal to drive and hold the phone simultaneously, Seattlelites! Of course, the law makes talking into a handset while driving a secondary misdemeanor so you can’t be pulled over specifically for that.

Regardless of whether Slaten’s got the answers or not, we must think about the choices we make while driving. It’s not just how our choices have an impact on our immediate world — me, my passengers, and my vehicle — but everyone else on the road too. As with anything that takes our brain away from the task of driving, we are in a state of consciousness that endangers all the other citizens of the road, including the undecided squirrels and misguided armadillos.

Maureen Dowd, distinguished op-ed columnist for the New York Times, is with me and Saletan on this one! How about you?

Added Aug 13, 2009:
More coverage on driving while distracted from the Washington Post brings home the point even further. The fact that many states have laws against talking and texting while driving, and all of these laws are executable only as secondary offenses illustrates the lame jab at the situation taken by lawmakers. There is virtually no way to enforce these laws. And although the American public pays lip service to being irritated by drivers acting irresponsibly in this way, which one of us is driving without talking or texting all of the time?

View the quiz from the Washington Post, and then return here to share your thoughts about talking and texting while driving and related laws.

Added Aug 25, 2009:
A PSA presented in the U.K. leaves no doubts about the dangers. The link in the previous sentence takes you to an article about the PSA, in which you’ll find a link to the PSA itself. Be ware, the PSA is very graphic and disturbing, achieving the desired effect. Perhaps we need a strong message of the same ilk for our public here in the U.S. Without it, are we getting the message?

Added Aug 27, 2009:
John Cook of TechFlash shares another poll from PEMCO about texting while driving and considers whether it should be a primary offense.

Graphic by Mike “Dakinewavamon” Kline

© Julie Pierce and Brittle Skillet, 2009-2011.

Written by Julie Pierce

July 23, 2009 at 7:33 pm