Hit '10' and '2' on wheel, not cell

April 05, 2009|By KEVIN COWHERD | KEVIN COWHERD,kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

With Maryland set to ban texting while driving - and good luck enforcing that one - politicians are practically throwing themselves in front of the TV cameras to take credit for saving lives.

Actually, it's amazing we even need a law to prohibit something as dumb as texting while driving.

You'd think people would realize how dangerous it is and just not do it.

What kind of a dope could possibly roar down a busy highway at 70 mph and think: "Y'know, this is a good time to pull out the cell phone, balance it precariously on the steering wheel and take my eyes off the road while furiously punching those tiny buttons with my fat little fingers."

Look, I don't care how good you are at texting.

I don't care if you're a wizard who can zip out a message in seconds and never take your eyes off the road to look at your cell.

Congratulations, that's a wonderful skill. You should go far in life.

But you're still not paying attention to the road the way you should be.

Which means you're a menace to me and every other motorist out there. And for that, you shouldn't just be given a ticket and a $500 fine, as now proposed.

You should have your license revoked.

(Do I sound like some kind of looney-tunes extremist about this? Sorry. I just have this quaint notion that people should actually drive with both hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road. At all times.)

The problem is, now that we're about to pass this nice new law, how do we enforce it?

Oh, I bet the police just loved hearing they have to go after highway texters now. That's all they need.

Here you have drunk drivers and gun runners and drug dealers driving around all over the place. And now the few cops that are still pulling traffic duty have to keep their eyes peeled for texters!

And exactly how will they catch them, anyway? Do they have to actually see the bad guys driving and texting to pull them over?

And how will they know a person is texting and not just dialing a cell phone to make a call, which is still legal in this state?

Understand, I don't think you should be allowed to drive while talking on your cell, either - even if you do it hands-free.

But the cell phone lobby is so powerful and people are so attached to their cells that you'd have to pry them from their cold, dead fingers before they'd stop using them in their cars.

Actually, if the police weren't so short-handed and we weren't slashing their budgets, I'd advocate that they pull over motorists for all sorts of stupid behavior behind the wheel.

How about going after the beauty queens who weave in and out of traffic on the Beltway while staring in their rear-view mirrors and putting on their mascara and lipstick?

Or the Norelco knuckleheads who barrel down the JFX squinting into their side-view mirrors while shaving with their electric razors?

On a morning trip downtown at rush hour years ago, I actually passed a man reading the Wall Street Journal while he drove.

This is absolutely true. He had the newspaper spread over the steering wheel. And he'd alternate between looking up at the road (nice of him to do) and reading the stock tables.

I wanted to see that guy pulled over so badly I could scream.

And wouldn't it be nice to see the cops ticket some of these dashboard diners, too?

These are the guys - it seems to be mainly a guy thing - who spread their meal across the dashboard and chow down while they drive.

They'll have a quarter-pounder and fries on the dash, a gallon of Coke in the cup-holder and go flying down the road tearing open ketchup packets with their wolverine-like teeth.

Fellas, I don't mind telling you, you scare me.

One of these days, you're going to take your eyes off the road to dunk a fry in that ketchup lagoon you've got going on the dash, and something bad will happen.

Sure, it's not against the law to drive and dunk fries.

But like texting while driving, it doesn't make a lot of sense.

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