After reading the Sept. 18 editorial, “Speed limit goes up; safety goes down” by Margarita Venegas, I am afraid I must take exception to one of her comments. I will not enter into the argument concerning the safety of raising the speed limit to 85 mph, however, the comment quoted below concerns me a great deal because it is shared by many others including a few state legislators.
“The first is that eight out of 10 drivers that I passed immediately upon getting onto the highway were on cell phones. And, I don’t mean responsibly using hands-free head sets or Bluetooth — they were talking away, one hand off the wheel, zigging in and out of traffic without a turn signal because who can do that when one hand is clutching a phone?”
The disturbing part is the second sentence. Using a hands-free device of any kind does not make you a responsible cell phone user. While it is always best to have both hands on the wheel, the primary problem is not the use of one’s hands — it is one’s brain. When you are talking on a cell phone, your brain is not concentrating on your primary task, which, of course, is driving. It is concentrated on your conversation. Talking to a passenger or listening to the radio is NOT the same. Neither requires the distraction and mental reaction involved with a phone conversation.
According to the U. S. Department of Transportation (www.distraction.gov/stats-and-facts/) “Using a cell phone while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent.” (Source: University of Utah)
As for the people who attempt to text and drive, they very well may acquire a new name: Organ Donor.
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