Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Drive By Texting

When I ride the bus to or from work, I am amazed at the number of drivers I see on LSD (as in Lake Shore Drive, not lyseric acid diethylamide - although there quite possibly could be drivers on lyseric acid diethlamide, but I digress) who are talking on their cell phones while driving. I've never been one to talk and drive at the same time.

People don't seem to understand the risks involved, especially when driving on something as fast-moving as an expressway during rush hour. But drivers who are just talking on their cell phones are not the biggest safety concern. The other day, I treated myself to a cab ride home rather than taking the bus or the EL. I thought my cab driver seemed to be driving a bit erratically, until I realized he was also texting on his cell phone. (There have been times when I have asked cab drivers to please hang up and concentrate on driving - cab drivers already have reputations for being irresponsible and reckless).

So naturally, I asked the driver of this cab to please stop text messaging on the phone and concentrate on the road. And he had the nerve to get pissy with me. "I can do both at the same time," he shoots back at me. "Not with me in the car, please put the phone down!"

He did as I originally requested - he stopped texting. Only to place a call, probably to the person to whom he was sending the text - and speak in another language, probably about me, because I kept catching his eye in the rear view mirror.

So, then it isn't common sense to not be sending text messages while you are operating a motor vehicle, especially one where you are responsible for a passenger's safety?? Is this what they teach in taxi college??

The driver got no tip - I even asked for the coins back. And I reported him to his cab company, although I am not sure what will be done about it, if anything. This is no worse than a bus driver working on a crossword puzzle or a pilot watching a DVD. I realize cab drivers need to communicate with their dispatchers now and then, but typing into a phone when both hands are supposed to be on the wheel - not to mention both eyes on the road - should cease and desist.

The next great automotive idea? A signal that disables text messaging in a vehicle when said vehicle is in motion. Hey Saab, make that!
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