Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ricky's Rants: Few musings on weapons (cars + cell phones)

The most dangerous weapon you will ever have in life, is your car...

Why oh why can this not be the very first thing out of any driving instructor's mouth?  Way too many people have become so complacent about driving that they don't stop to realize they are moving around in thousands of pounds of metal flying along at speeds that will require hundreds of feet to stop.

Now before you roll your eyes and assume this is going to be one of those "all drivers are idiots, and all cyclists are perfect" rants, please realized these 2 facts.
  1. Most motorists are safe intelligent drivers who understand the responsibility in their hands when they start the engine.
  2. I am equally peeved by cyclists riding like idiots as motorists driving like idiots (look for a future rant on that subject.)
My ire at this phenomenon of drivers taking the safety of others for granted isn't specific to the danger to cyclists as we are not the only victims of distracted drivers.  Rather we are just one of the many needlessly put at risk by some driver who believes they can manage the complex task of safely piloting an extremely dangerous weapon, while simultaneously using one or both of their hands as well as both of their eyes, and most of their brain, to read/send that text message that just couldn't wait until they got off the road.

As a cyclist who commutes, I spend part of my day waiting at traffic lights watching cars go by.  At the major intersections, I rarely go through a cycle of the lights without seeing at least 2 or 3 drivers going by holding phones to their ear, or at least 1 driver texting behind the wheel.   This terrifies me in a couple of ways.  First, these are just a small subset of the drivers on the road that I am able to see when I stop.  What about those I don't see?  Second, these people are doing this while going through an intersection, arguably one of the times when they should be at their most alert.  How many are putting the phone down for the intersection, only to pick it up again afterwards?

I really do put the lunacy of texting while driving up there with the lunacy of starting to smoke.  I understand that smokers do have an addiction and that is extremely tough to quit.  I have nothing against them for that.  Instead I wonder why with the amount of knowledge we have about the effects of cigarettes, would anybody in their right mind deliberately start smoking?  By the same token, with the obvious dangers to yourself, your passengers and everybody around you, why the hell would you think it's a good idea to send or read that text while driving.  

Texting and driving should be prosecuted to the same extent as taking a rifle and randomly firing it down the street.  The danger is the same, the punishment and enforcement should be as well.

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