2017-08-09 / Editorials

Common sense would help a lot

Other Voices
Mitch Clarke

Editor’s Note: The following column is rerun from Aug 17, 2016. We look forward to Mitch’s column next week.

I have always supported laws banning texting while driving, and I’ve even suggested we ought to ban all things that distract us while we’re driving. After all , our cars are two- ton lethal weapons. I want people paying attention to the road while they are behind the wheel.

But I’ve always stopped short of saying we shouldn’t allow people to talk on their phones while they drive.

The logic here is that, for as long as there have been cars, there have always been passenger seats. I assume that ever since Henry Ford was driving around town in his Model T, he was having a conversation with Mrs. Ford in the passenger seat.

If you can have a conversation with someone in the passenger seat, shouldn’t you also be able to have a conversation with someone on a phone? Based on what I see on the roadways, the answer is no.

Recently, a woman driving a black BMW pulled out in front of me on Green Street. She was talking on the phone at the time and never looked to her left as she pulled out of post office parking lot.

Fortunately, I was paying attention and was able to avoid a crash. I doubt she ever heard my horn.

Last weekend, I was driving to my mother’s house in Southwest Georgia. I was on I- 85 south of Atlanta, where the speed limit is 70 mph. Ahead of me, I saw a number of cars weaving in and out of the fast lane. Soon, I saw why.

A woman was driving about 55 mph in the fast lane. She was oblivious to the cars scrambling to get around her because her phone was attached to her ear.

It’s always seemed pretty simple to me. Signs on the interstate clearly state “slower traffic keep right.” If everyone would do that, then move left when they need to pass, then move safely back into the right lane, it seems to me that traffic would flow easier, tailgating wouldn’t be near the problem it is now.

Of course, rudeness with cell phones goes beyond just those behind the wheel. Take the woman at the dry cleaners last week. We reached the front door at the same time and, gentle man that I am, I opened the door for her. She never acknowledged my gesture. Nor did she ever speak to the clerk at any time while she wa s picking up her clothes.

Why? Because she was having a conversation with someone on the phone.

I don’t think there is anyone I need to talk to badly enough that I can’t sa y, “Let me call you ba ck in five minute s after I pick up my dry cleaning.”

Look, I love my phone. I love that I can read the news, watch videos, view photographs and surf the net, all from a device that fits in the palm of my hand. On occasion, I actually use my phone to make calls.

And I do make calls in my car. I have a hands free device, so I can keep both hands on the wheel. But I try not to make a call in a congested area or when I need to be looking for a turn. I pay attention to the road.

It may come down to a need to ban talking on cell phones while driving.

But it’s really just a matter of common sense. If people would use a little, the problem would solve itself.

Mitch Clarke, a native of Blakely, is the editor of Access WDUN. com in Gainesville. He can be contacted at mitch.clarke@gmail.com. Read previous columns at  www. accessw dun.com blog/mitch.

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