Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Vehicle cell phone ban

Hello? New laws alone can't beat back risks of cell phone use
POSTED August 4, 9:26 AM


Put a cell phone to your ear while driving and be prepared for a siren call -- from the police or paramedics.

Keep your head down while walking and texting, texting, texting, text ... and oops ... "Emergency Room" may be your next subject line.

And if you have kids, don't forget to keep worrying if electromagnetic radiation swirling from their ever-present cell phones will one day call up cancer cells.

The risks of keeping in touch dominated health news the past week, leaving me feeling rather queasy. Facts and mandates on cell-phone use across the U.S. were catching up to the creeping, creepy feeling I've had about our societal disease -- call it 24/7 communicatosim. Emergency room docs reported an upsurge in people coming with injuries (and not just sore thumbs) from walking into, or falling into and over, various objects while walking and texting --- things like cars, curbs, signs, bicyclists, buildings and buses.
Washington State troopers were also keen to report the dozens of warnings and citations they issued during the first month of enforcement of the state's new cell phone driving law. While it mandates the use of hands-free cell phone devices so drivers keep their hands on the wheel, it doesn't really do anything to stop the real problem -- the distraction of being deep in conversation to your faceless but in-your-face boss who has no idea you're going 70 mph and heading straight into an I-5 pile-up, probably caused by another case of cell phoneitis.
Nothing proves the case of how absorbing and mind-altering cell phone conversations can be than the two separate incidences earlier this year in Washington state -- two people walking and talking on cell phones along railroad tracks and killed when they failed to hear trains --- and multiple frantic whistles.
We shouldn't need laws, medical studies and public signs such as "Look Up" (posted around the University of Washington campus) to remind us to think and walk, think and drive. But apparently we do. Because our I.Q. seems to dip with the introduction of every new gadget that further allows us to "multi-task." We are no longer multi-tasking. We are multi-risking. And we put not just our own bodies and minds in jeopardy but all those in the path of our insular-bubble babble.
So remember, next time you get in your car.
Don't Do It. Don't reach for that deadly weapon -- your cell phone.
Just Get In.
And Just Drive.