Help end distracted driving


Maybe it's time to apply “Just say no,” Nancy Reagan’s 1980s anti-drug slogan, to distracted driving.

The addiction that needs licking is distracted driving in general and texting and driving in particular. Evidence and documentation of the hazards of less-than-fully focused driving is easily found. Head for your favorite search engine and type in "distracted driving." There aren't enough hours in the week to consume it all.

Oprah Winfrey has adopted the issue and keeps it on her front burner with her "No Cell Phone Zone" campaign. Her site has links to dozens of stories about the dangers of multitasking with a mobile phone while operating a vehicle.

Visit Oprah's No Phone Zone site:
http://www.oprah.com/packages/no-phone-zone.html

NPR's “Car Talk,” which airs locally Saturdays and Sundays on KNPR-FM (88.9), has links to research by distracted-driving experts who say even hands-free cell-phone use should be banned. The site has research to back the claim that hands-free devices offer no safety advantage over holding a phone while you drive.

Visit the “Car Talk” Driver Distraction Center:
http://cartalk.com/ddc/

You may want to take the Driver Distraction Quiz:
http://cartalk.com/ddc/interact/quiz/

A story in the Derry News in Derry, N.H., describes a team of students that invented a steering wheel that detects when one hand is removed from it for more than three seconds. Only one member of the six-member team that created the Safe Motorist Alert for Restricting Texting (SMART) wheel is old enough to drive but the group realizes the importance of stopping this deadly habit.

Read the story: Young inventors might solve texting-while-driving problem:
www.bit.ly/smartwheel

I took driver's ed classes in 1972 in Illinois. They included a series of black-and-white films from the Ohio highway patrol that featured the results of horrific crashes. Some of the images are still etched in my memory and I always keep more than proper distance between my car and the rear of any semitractor rig. I've seen the film about what happens when you don't.

Fast-forward to 2010 and another film featuring the hazards of distracted driving. I found this after doing a Twitter search for #distracteddriving:
http://tinyurl.com/28cg53c

The film shows nearly eight minutes of footage from many terrible accidents. Not all involve texting, tweeting, e-mailing or talking on phones. They all involve heavy vehicles colliding with pedestrians, other drivers and even trains. None of it is pretty to watch.

It's time we all "just say no" to using cell phones while we're behind the wheel of moving vehicles.

Please share this with everyone you care about.