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December 27, 2011 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Getting the finger: Texting. Cell Phones. Driving.

Driving into the New Year, it’s time park and map out plans for 2012.

Party ending for cell phones in cars?

The National Transportation and Safety Board resolutely believes the intersection of technology, roadways, and human attention span requires a three-way stop. Mechanics aside, they propose a ban on cell phone use and texting while driving.

It’s for the public’s own good.

It will make us safer.

Just like the TSA and airport security? (That has gone so well)

At first glance flying across the windshield, the proposal seems to make sense: less distraction for drivers means fewer “accidents” and lives will be saved. Can’t easily wipe off that.

So simple, but it’s not.

Before putting medal to the petal with this suggestion, consider:

Will actually solve the problem?

Cell phone ban would not have prevented this.

What about fighting kids in the back seat? Totally turning around to “straighten things out” means eyes aren’t exactly on the road. And all that exasperatingly annoying whining from back there, who can think? (Hey, NTSB, have you considered suggesting cars would be safer if there were no back seats or back seat passengers? And, win-win, cars could be smaller, lighter, and save fuel. Green Initiative!)

What about front seat passengers with their “turn right here, NOW” or those “It’s not you, it’s me” unexpected conversations? Maybe do like some trucking companies and get rid of  passenger seats? (Wow, another win-win Green Initiative: smaller cars, fuel savings, and force groups to use mass transportation.)

And about those drivers allowing their pets to drive by sitting them in their laps? Need to address that. Some dogs need some sort of booster seat to see out well. Need mandates for hand paw controlled gas pedals and brakes? Something to consider. (Note: Check with the animal rights groups. Don’t want to face litigation about depriving animals of driving rights.)

Then there’s  the Road Warriors and commuters who have no choice but to eat in their cars. Unwrapping all those burgers. Grabbing at a tumbling taco. Intercepting dripping burritos. Oh, the trials of staving off starvation. Not to mention hot coffee incidents. OK. How to balance and weigh the medical issues? Low blood sugar vs hospital stays due to accidents?

Fowls against Cell Phones: They want to safely cross the road! (image by Diana Andersen. Kimani Aviaries, Australia)

Even if  all that distracting stuff is eliminated, cars still might need to have the interiors stripped for safety:

  • Radios? Oh, those steering wheel controls help there.(But the music does make some want to dance instead of drive. Hmmm…)
  • GPS with colorful screens and assertive chirping voices? (Re-calculating. Re-calculating)
  • Power windows and sunroofs – another worry. (Is that shut all the way? It doesn’t sound shut. Now does it sound shut? How about now? Oh, sorry your hair got caught. Now?)
  • Power Seats: always moving entertainment. (Who’s messed with my seat settings? It’s hard to reach the pedals. There. Almost right. A little back support. Oops,too much. Maybe if I sit up a little higher…)
  • Don’t forget the power mirrors (Ooopsie, moved the seat, now have to adjust. Oh, I thought that was for the right mirror…).
  • Not to mention those polite on-board computers flashing alerts about maintenance issues like oil changes or tire pressure.

All so insistent. So demanding. All commanding immediate attention. Who has time to drive?

What about drivers distracted by scenery?

That’s not even mentioning the creative ways drivers spend their commutes.

  • Catch up on the newspaper. (Or are you attempting to wallpaper your windshield?)
  • Finishing the Girl with the Dragon Tatoo. (Someone please get him books on tape.)
  • Make-up? (One eye on the road, one on that visor mirror. Ouch!)
  • And Lady – the one doing her toe nails with her foot propped on the top of the steering wheel – you know who you are. No one likes to be in front of you – or either side either. (Seriously, Lady, how many color changes do you need each week?) We know which car you drive and we ALL move away from you as fast as possible.

Just can’t legislate good sense.

In fact it may actually harm humans’ decision-making abilities. Pretty soon, the reason for not texting or using the cell phone would be: it’s against the law. (Instead of thinking and realizing it’s a dangerous thing to do.)

Passing a law prohibiting something.  THAT is so successful in getting people to stop doing things? Like having a ban on open alcoholic beverage containers inside cars. That stopped drunk driving incidents, right? Next.

Well, a law would give teenagers something else to rebel against. (Woo-whoo! Another opportunity to defy parents!)

While passing such a law attempts to protect against dire consequences, people just don’t seem to learn if nothing bad happens to them as a result of their own actions.

Yeah, like someone choosing to drink and drive, or people choosing not to wear seat belts, lives may be lost because someone decides to use the phone or text instead of paying attention. Teachable moment. Use the opportunity, people. Of course, driving accidents also remove a few less than bright humans from the gene pool (That sounded a little harsh)

Oh, that’s just silly.

Armadillos begging along roadways fear distracted drivers. (image from WIKI)

That National Transportation and Safety Board is just full of zingy things. Maybe this proposal came from zooming thoughts fueled by getting-ready-for-the-holdiays lack of sleep, Irish coffee, and too many sugar plums. A zealous”be your brothers’ keeper” concept taken to the extreme.(Only out of caring!)

Reminds me of an old joke 

A Boy Scout tried to earn a badge by assisting a granny crossing the street. Only granny, in reality, was trying to go home in the other direction. She protested loudly. But the Boy Scout, thinking she had “diminished capacity”, and doing his best to do a good deed, just ignored her and powered her “safely” across to the other side of the street. So funny, isn’t it? Going to help you whether you need it or not.

Oh, well, the light for cell phones is currently amber.

Honk, if you’re happy!

(But pay attention now.)

Madly driving – or driving madly?

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge



  1. Kaitlin / Dec 27 2011 4:11 am

    Eh, yeah, there’s good sense, and then there’s overwhelming butt covering. Banning cellphones or requiring headsets has done measurable good where it’s enforced. It won’t stop the accidents, but it’ll make people think twice before pulling out the phone.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 27 2011 2:12 pm

      Most cities around here already have passed ordinances banning all cell phone use in school zones which is an excellent idea – and they do stop motorists and write tickets. It always amazes me people actually text while driving – multitasking on steroids (or really assuming they are much smarter and more talented than the general driving public). We’ll see what state legislatures decide to do – guess lobbyists on both sides are gearing up. Thanks for the drive-by comment.


  2. rumpydog / Dec 27 2011 4:15 am

    Did ya ever notice we don’t like government intervention, except when we like it?


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 27 2011 2:49 pm

      Hmmm, didn’t even realize this was government intervention. Guess it is. This was a hot topic during holiday parties and gatherings – but more of a philosophical one: can you legislate morality or human behavior? Do laws actually change human behavior? Prohibition came up (It was a party) and seatbelts (local kid died recently ’cause he didn’t use one) Seatbelts – great invention. So logical. All agree they save lives. Should be habit for everyone by now. So why did he not click it in? Very tragic. (and I don’t like kids/passengers in the back of pick-ups either – I know the law says “if there’s not enough seatbelts”, it doesn’t make sense.)
      Several people brought up the need for cell phones as a safety issue. One talks with a health care worker who’s hospital is in a high crime area – and with the car jackings and crime rate around here, they stay on the phone from point A to point B. Another said they stay on line with a family member to make sure the driver makes doesn’t fall asleep on the way home.(a night nurse from the area died that way recently). Then there’s the one who has a stalker and is terrified, so they are on the phone in transit. All of these could manage with headsets, but a total ban would be a problem. As usual, a complicated issue.
      Thanks for the astute observation! Rumpydog, you always get down to the bone of the issue. Thanks.


  3. Bongo / Dec 27 2011 5:36 am

    I think I’d better get my person to stop reading this post while she’s driving. Maybe if I sit on her lap and start jumping up and down she’ll stop.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 27 2011 2:03 pm

      German: I’ve found noses in the ear work really well. I’m grumbling a lot because they are talking a lot about clipping my harness into a seat belt.Thanks for watching out for your person’s safety. (I’d share a dog bone with you, but it won’t seem to go into the monitor)


  4. jannatwrites / Dec 27 2011 5:59 am

    I don’t like this legislation at all. I mean, if they legislate texting/cell phones while driving, next thing I know they’ll stop me from putting on panty hose in the car, or take Bohemian Rhapsody off the radio (maybe it’s just me, but can’t help but go a little ‘Wayne’s World’ when that song plays :))

    Thanks for the smiles….you’re right – you can’t legislate good sense. Man, we’re in trouble….


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 27 2011 2:06 pm

      Please, please someone do something about toenail polish lady – even if we are just inching along…we hate seeing her feet up there (but must admit, she is limber). With a 1+ hr commute each way, you see the oddest things. Thanks for parking to chat.


  5. Barb / Dec 27 2011 8:09 am

    I live in a state that has hand-free cell phone usage. I actually appreciate it. I can’t tell you how many fools cut in fornt of me and weave around and when I finally pass them, they’re gabbing on the phone. Drives me nuts. Get off the phone and drive. I agree…you can’t legislate common sense, the problem is…there’s lots of blankbrains out there who have no common sense.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 27 2011 2:18 pm

      Head sets are so convenient! I hate to be behind a car just moving along well, then all of a sudden it starts jerking around – you know the driver is lunging for a cell phone – and then that car starts going slower – and slower while the driver animatedly chats with many hand gestures. Then once the call is over the driver speeds way up. Traffic theater. Thanks for adding to the conversation


  6. Homestead Ramblings / Dec 27 2011 11:34 am

    Great Word. 🙂


  7. The Hook / Dec 27 2011 3:53 pm

    Great mortoring post! Technology has added yet another distraction to an ever-growing list, hasn’t it?


  8. ceciliag / Dec 27 2011 10:00 pm

    That as great, i was just about to argue with you about the txting but now I see it. Ok from Now on daisy is in the back seat. Oh daisy is my cow! c


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 27 2011 10:28 pm

      Make sure Daisy wipes her feet before getting in. (hope she is doing better) Enjoyed touring your “peaceable kingdom” farm. Thanks for stopping by here and adding to the conversation


  9. Tyler / Dec 28 2011 12:02 am

    The ‘gubment’ is actually looking for something that they can do successfully. Unfortunately, like most of their activity, it is not really a creative productive accomplishment but rather a prohibition.
    Need to go order my Direct TV Mobile before they jump on that.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 28 2011 3:14 pm

      That is GPS glowing on that dashboard, right? Thanks for the heads up…I’ll just change lanes now….


  10. robstroud / Dec 28 2011 7:21 am


    I do have a solution to the distraction of lovely scenery. You could do the L.A. commute. If anything can deaden someone to the world’s beauty, that is it!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 28 2011 3:10 pm

      Excellent solution – it’s getting a lot of support from the deer lobby ( not to be confused with dear leader). Thanks for suggesting it!


  11. lossforwords360 / Dec 29 2011 3:24 am

    I always love reading your posts! I couldn’t agree more!


  12. literarychicks78 / Dec 29 2011 10:14 pm

    Thought provoking post!
    Right now, there are so many laws on the books telling us how we must live that no fifty people could know them all. My lawyer’s office contains two rooms of floor to ceiling shelves of law books for our state alone! At what point is someone in government going to yell, “Stop it! We’ve got enough rules already!”


  13. MJ, Nonstepmom / Dec 30 2011 12:53 am

    I think the gps is hugely distracting, trying to follow the little map and then this overly-pleasant voice commanding me to turn… freaks me out. One detail to correct- most kids in the backseat are no longer a distraction because many over-indulgent parents have given them their own cell phones or dvd players.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 30 2011 2:46 am

      Hmmm, the kids I’ve observed must have gotten bored with gadgets provided…still throwing tantrums…maybe they need wider selection of movies..or for the other to stop singing along while wearing headphones.(and where are their seatbelts? scary.) We used to have a fuel gauge that would suddenly blurt out “fuel level is low. fuel level is low…” over and over again and would not shut up. Talk about annoying. Thanks for adding your thoughts.


  14. robpixaday / Jan 1 2012 5:59 pm

    People are endlessly creative when it comes to ways of making mischief.
    Or letting mischief occur unimpeded.

    Worst thing I ever saw (in 44 years of driving) was the pants-less lady steering a truck with her nether regions. I suposed there was a truck driver somewhere underneath because her feet were nowhere near the pedals and the truck was barreling along.

    Great post!!


  15. ramonadepares / Jan 5 2012 6:20 am

    Where do you draw the line when it comes to laws that are there to protect us…


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