Comments: DRIVING

I never talk on my cell while I drive. Its too distracting. You know, I often wonder, when I see just about everyone talking & driving "who are they talking to? and what is so important that you need to talk and drive, talk & shop (at grocery store, Target, just about anywhere). I mean, cant it wait until you are home?

Posted by keri at January 18, 2007 12:45 PM

I think it's reasonable to talk on the phone while driving (I do it frequently) as long as you NEVER forget that your number one priority is driving the car safely. The people on the road who are dangerous, quite simply, are the ones who lose sight of that essential fact.

Banning the use of cell phones while driving does not prevent other sources of distraction (radio, children, scenery, etc) from grabbing the attention of drivers who allow themselves to be distracted, and the logic of "because some act irresponsibly when doing X, we should ban everyone from doing X" leads down a dangerously repressive political road--one which is profoundly destructive of the individual competence necessary to sustain a democracy.

I agree with Sarah that the rules of the road which determine relative positioning, especially those regarding lane usage or spacing in adverse weather conditions, are more important than speed regulations in preventing accidents. Evidently, however, I am also more comfortable "expanding" the freeway speed limits somewhat...

Fast, but not aggressive! It works for me.

Posted by Piercello at January 18, 2007 02:55 PM

Piercello: Cell phone talking maybe isn't always causation -- because sometimes folks are just bad drivers, phone or not -- but think of all the times you've noticed correlation! I'm never surprised when someone who does something completely dangerous on the road has a phone in hand.

Posted by Sarah at January 18, 2007 03:00 PM

Certainly! It's just that we have to be careful about the choice of remedy, from a policy point of view. I have also seen lots of dangerous, reckless, and otherwise situationally unaware driving that DIDN'T involve cell phones. I've actually gotten to the point where I am rarely -surprised- by the actions of other drivers, although I am frequently aggravated (usually mildly) whenever I run across inconsiderate or incompetent driving (occasionally it's me, although I work hard on that!). Of course, for years I have been driving more than 30k miles per year...

I think we need to stress what to do (drive safely and courteously) rather than regulate through an expanding list of things not to do. It's a much more efficient way of doing business, and has the added bonus of focusing peoples' minds on what they are doing, not what they aren't.

Posted by Piercello at January 18, 2007 05:28 PM

Oh how I can relate! I obey the speed limits here in the states because 1) getting to my destination 10 minutes earlier isn't worth a $150 speeding ticket and 2) it's much easier to stop or avoid a bad situation going 65 than it is going 95...the latter will almost always get you killed. I agree that speed limits are good, if all they do is keep a few people on the road afraid of hefty tickets going a reasonable speed. I do miss the German road rules. Slow people in the right, passers in the left...when done passing, back to the right. I am certainly classified as a "slow" driver and it STILL irritates me when another slow driver chooses to putz along in the right-hand lane and then clog traffic in both lanes. It's hard to get good gas mileage when, although you're only going 65, you're constantly braking and speeding up to accomodate these people!

Posted by Nicole at January 20, 2007 01:16 PM

The real problem with speed limits is that you have "virtuous" people driving on the road. They are going the speed limit and you damned well better do it too! So they move to the inside lane and block faster traffic... because they have appointed themselves as traffic arbiters.

That's where the "speed limit" becomes a detraction. Because there is always someone who likes that inside lane and either has no concept that they are blocking traffic or they are trying to control traffic.

Out in the mid-west there is a minimum speed limit for interstate highways... it's 45mph. If you can't go at least that fast, you don't belong on a highway! I don't see that on the east coast and I see people on highways up here going 30mph!!! How dangerous is that when you have people whipping down the road at 65+ mph.

Then there's the fact that many people in the northeast never learned how to drive properly - like coming to a dead stop on highway entrance ramps... that kind of thing. It's a scary world up here - I thought Chicago was bad until I moved out here. Yikes!

But it's a large country and rules of the road that make sense out in the mid-west and west are dangerous on the east coast with its cramped narrow roads. Speed limits, or lack thereof, should be a state by state issue - not national. Someone from Massachusetts, who has never driven from say St. Louis to South Dakota, has zero concept of what that trip is like, so why should they have a say in how the roads are set up for driving?

Posted by Teresa at January 20, 2007 03:20 PM

Argh. I could care less about how fast or slow anyone goes. But for Christ's sake, if you are going 40 mph on the freeway, stay the hell in the right lane (instead of setting your cruise while driving in the left lane and looking at the 12 cars behind you thinking, why don't they just pass me on the right?) That is one thing I'll never get used to in the states. It literally makes me crazy. And they wonder why people have road rage.

Posted by Erin at January 24, 2007 10:28 PM