As my wife and I were driving home from visiting children in Southern California last week, we were scooting along the Interstate 405 freeway in the carpool lane and we noticed a car ahead of us kept inching across the white line and then back. As we passed cautiously my wife looked into the car and the driver, an adult woman, was texting.
For the rest of the way home we started making notes of how many folks driving on the freeway, from Santa Monica to Atascadero, were using cellphones. And all of them were adults.
We have been reading in the print media and told by television news about keeping teens off their cellphones, but I think it is only fair to broaden the message to include adults as well.
The majority of my driving is right here in Atascadero. Because I live near the high school, I do see numerous teens driving while on their cellphones. But the adults I catch talking and texting make up the majority of those who are also putting themselves and others at risk of being killed or injured.
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It reminds me of that great experiment called Prohibition, in which we attempted to get people off alcohol. The devastation imposed on American families because of alcohol abuse was horrendous. It was bad before Prohibition, and continues to be that way three-quarters of a century after alcohol was made legal again.
Not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic. But the drug can be addictive. The same with cellphones. They are a great convenience when used properly and with caution, but people just don’t want to give them up.
I don’t think I can text on my $14 cellphone. Someone said I could but I haven’t tried.
When it rings while I’m driving, I have to pull over to talk or hand the phone to my wife when we’re driving together. But it is so very easy to forget.
I had a call from an appliance serviceman recently to tell me he was on his way from his previous call and would be here in 15 minutes to fix my oven.
It was convenient for him and for me.
But getting people to turn off their phones or put them in the trunk while driving, while an excellent idea, isn’t going to work.
We’re addicted to the convenience.
Just go to any concert and watch what happens when the announcer says, “Now would be a good time to turn off all electronic devices.” The theater lights up as phones come out of purses and pockets to be silenced.
It’s out of control.
Lon Allan has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades. His column appears here every week. He can be reached at 466-8529 or firstname.lastname@example.org.