Thursday, October 22, 2009

Driven to Distraction

A few days ago I sent a letter to the editor of The Hartford Courant. It was published yesterday. Here it is:

In her Oct. 19 letter ["Mom-itering Young Drivers"], M. Regina Cram wisely advises that parents forbid teens' use of electronic devices while driving. But teens are only part of the problem. In the same issue of The Courant, a summary of new research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety [World & Nation, "Hand-Held Bans Vex Drivers, Study Finds"] provided numbers to back up what many of us see every day on Connecticut's roads: Most people who use hand-held cellphones while driving are adults between the ages of 25 and 59. I was recently nearly broadsided by a middle-aged woman too busy texting to notice she had run a red light.

Here's an action plan:

To legislators: Give us a law with some teeth. Penalize phone-impaired driving as severely as we punish drug- or alcohol-impaired driving. They are equally risky. Provide enough money so that police can get dangerous drivers off the road.

To law enforcement: Arrest drivers who break the law and put the rest of us at risk. Wouldn't you rather issue a ticket than respond to a fatal accident?

To drivers of all ages: Hang up and drive! Pull over if you must use the phone. Is it worth the risk? Your lives — and ours — are at stake.

You can read the letter online HERE at The Courant's website, where you can also review (and add to) the comments that other readers have appended.

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