. . . Thursday July 1, 2004

Lowest Common Cellnominator

Today, DC and Jersey will join New York in implementing laws that restrict the use of cell phones while driving.

Drivers will be required to use a hands-free device if they are talking on the phone. If you are a decent driver, this sounds crazy. The notion that you can’t drive just fine and talk on the phone at the same time is absurd.

But here’s the rub. If you are among the vast majority of people out there, you are a crap driver. You can barely function on the road. You don’t know which lane is for what. You honk at inappropriate times. You cut people off. You get outraged at others when you’re in the wrong. You are always driving either too slow or too fast for the situation. You have no idea how to perform a left hand turn. You back out of parking spaces without looking. It takes you way too long to perform a simple task. You don’t see well. You don’t think quickly. Your instincts are wrong and your more thought out decisions are off the mark. Changing lanes shouldn’t be that hard after, say, twenty years of practice. Traffic shouldn’t be as bad as it is, but you make it so. You run red lights. You cut off pedestrians. When you try to do something nice for another driver, it always ends up costing that other driver time and creating massive anxiety. You don’t realize that the nicest thing you can do on the road is to drive like you know how drive. You can’t have a conversation with someone in the backseat without turning around. You don’t wave when someone slams on the brakes to let you make a way-too-late lane change. You sometimes make turns from the center lane. Your freeway speed is neither consistent nor situationally appropriate. You tailgate in the right lane and you never check your mirrors when you’re in the fast lane. You’ve got like ten bumper stickers on your car and none of them say “My other car refuses to be driven by me.” If more than one car arrives at an intersection at the same time you do, your senses crumble. You’re often stunned to find that there are other drivers on the road. Why are you swerving? Why don’t you pick a lane? Why would you need to use your brakes on an open freeway? Why do you think that looking for an address is an excuse to slow down or stop in a lane of traffic? You’re not aware of what’s going on around you on the road. You are a danger to yourself and others.

And if you do something stupid (or worse) there is a really good chance that one of us (the ones who can drive) will disdainfully glance over only to find a cell phone in your ear and a driver (you) that has no idea that any error was committed.

True. It’s not fair to me.

But because you suck, we do need these laws.

Coming soon: Corporal punishment for those who walk into elevators without first letting others walk out.

Concentration is important!