May 30, 2012


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Okay, I’m not out to save the world.  I’m not Superman.  I’m trying to keep ME safe on the roads.

The above links are all about cellphone use and driving.  I find it incredible and unimaginable that anyone, while driving (whether it be a car, truck, scooter, motorcycle) would be texting messages on their cellphones.  But it happens.

In these times of computers and cellphones, instant communication and instant information is what people need – apparently.  We are all in a rush to get somewhere.  We needed to be at our destination 10 minutes ago, not 10 minutes from now.

I realize that we live in a world where more and more people want their own freedom and space.  Everyone wants a vehicle.  We live in homes which are farther from our workplaces.  Obviously, cost is a factor.  Being further away, means for some people, they have to communicate with their offices or homes or clients via cellphone.  Long gone are the days where you would need to be at a payphone or (heaven forbid) your desk at work to make that phone call.

Many years ago, when cellphones were starting to make their appearance, I remember lots of comments on how dangerous these items were going to be.  Sure, it’s great to be able to chat with your mom or child or your co-worker while you’re driving.  The mere fact that we don’t have to be ‘glued’ to our chair to use the phone, has become a way of life.  Where once, cellphones were for the elite, I now see children as young as 7 and 8 using cellphones!

Bills were introduced in provincial, state, and even federal governments, to regulate cellphone usage.  Basically, the bills were introduced to curb and hopefully deter people from using cellphones, in particular, while driving.  It was argued, that talking on a cellphone while driving, distracted the driver from paying attention to his/her surroundings, thus possibly leading to an increase in accidents and fatalities on the roadways.  And, in many provinces and states, those bills were passed into law.  However, did it really do any good?

Obviously not.  When you watch the videos from the links above, and believe me, this is a VERY small sample, you can see that nothing has changed.  Honestly, I don’t know if anyone has ever been stopped and given a ticket for chatting on a cellphone while driving.  Even those that have been in accidents, and the cause is directly tied to chatting and driving, have been fined because of that fact.

When I left Canada in 2002 to come to Taiwan, sure, I knew a few people who had cellphones.  Cellphones then were a luxury item.  Not everyone had one, but they were becoming more popular.  Once I got settled in Taiwan, I was actually surprised at just how many people in Taiwan rely on cellphones.

Payphones, and even landlines, are not really that common in Taiwan.  Sure, business and offices use landlines.  It just seemed like everyone had a cellphone.  And I was not immune to that idea either.  Very shortly after my first employ, my manager gave me an old Nokia that she wasn’t using, so at least I could stay in touch with people.  Before long, I purchased my first cellphone.  It was a ‘pay-as-you-go’ phone.  I bought a card at 7-11, entered the password, and voila, I had phone service until my ‘credit’ was depleted.  Then, purchase another card, and away I go.

I will agree that there are a lot of rules regarding roads and driving.  Some may seem ridiculous, but when you get to the ultimate reason for these rules, it is all about safe driving.  How to keep yourself from being an accident victim, and how to avoid creating an accident victim!

Some time ago, Mythbusters did an episode where they confirmed the ‘myth’, that cellphone usage can be just as distracting as being drunk.  They went through various tests and completed a closed course, and the confirmed the myth.  However, it was noted that, if one needed to, they could put down the cellphone, whereas it was not so easy to ‘not be drunk’.

Every day, and yes, EVERY DAY, I see at least a half dozen people or more, driving and chatting on cellphones.  Whether they be drivers in cars, trucks, buses, police vehicles, scooters, motorcycles, and even bicycles, it just seems to be the norm in Taiwan.  Perhaps it’s getting to that point in North America as well.

Some time back, I was a passenger on a scooter.  As I was not the driver, and my cellphone was ringing, I decided to answer it.  My problem was that I could not hear anything from the caller.  I could only hear the roar of the wind magnified in my ear canal!  The sound of the wind across the mouthpiece, was amplified in the earpiece.  I had to ask my friend to pull over, so I could continue my conversation.

At that point, I decided there was really no reason to be chatting while I was on the road – either as a driver or a passenger.  If I’m expecting a phone call, I will keep the phone in my pocket.  If the call comes in while I’m driving, I can feel the vibration of the call.  Pull off to the side of the road, and take the call.

Granted, when your inside your private space, that being a car or other like vehicle, it is relatively quiet.  Which would explain why people tend to not be aware of the roadways as it is.  It’s too quiet. You can’t hear sirens or horns of others.  So naturally, chatting is fine because it is quiet.

The other day, I did see a rather unique situation.  I was behind another scooterist.  Beside the fact that he was not wearing a helmet, and zipping along at a leisurely 60km/hr, he was swerving in and out of the scooter lane and the outside traffic lane.  At one point, I was finally able to get around this maniac driver.  That’s when I noticed, he was barely looking at the road, because he was texting.  I couldn’t believe it.  Talking on the phone is one thing, but texting??  That’s when I decided to do a quick search, and yes, it was a quick search, and found thousands of videos on YouTube related to this very thing – texting while driving.

People.  Wake up.  How can I or others get the point across to your little brains, that when you are on the road, believe it or not, there are others on the road as well.  To say that, well, everyone else does it, so why not me, is just not an option.  We live in a world where everyone is in a hurry all the time.  Everyone it seems, has a phone.  Everyone needs to be in contact with someone all the time.  You need to chat with someone while you’re driving, pull over.  A couple of minutes not moving, is a hell of a safer for you and everyone else.  You already are late for that all important destination, what difference will a couple more minutes make?  Perhaps the life of one person – YOU!

That’s it, that’s all… for now!

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “May 30, 2012

  1. Beth

    I don’t have as much of a problem with talking on a cell phone – hands free only – while driving as I do with driving and texting. I will admit I’ve texted (once or twice) while at a stoplight but it is too distracting in my mind. There isn’t anything so important that it can’t wait until you get where you’re going or pull over. I can’t believe the number of people I still see holding their phone and texting! Unreal!

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