A new kind of ‘road rage’

Remember when road rage was mainly triggered by rush hour traffic?   Recently, I was driving in local traffic near the university when a car in front of me was signaling left and made a sudden move to the RIGHT lane.   Okay, we all get confused.   In the next block the driver all of a sudden moved to the middle of the road between two lanes.  I slammed on my brakes and honked my horn.     When the driver finally pulled into one lane,  I moved up and saw the elderly woman driver clearly on her cell phone.   She looked at me as I motioned “get off your phone” and I don’t think she had a clue why I was signaling her.   Within two city blocks I could have not one, but two accidents. Distracted driving is a dangerous and common practice, especially as more drivers are not just talking, they are texting.   According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 3000 people died in car accidents in 2010 because drivers were texting, on the phone, or were distracted by something else  like eating, putting on makeup, etc.    Here are a few more stats:

  • Drivers who use mobile devices are four times more likely to have an accident and injure themselves or others.
  • Using a cell phone while driving is the equivalent of having a blood alcohol concentration of .08%, the legal limit in most states.
  • Using a cell phone can reduce the brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent.
  • Car accidents are the leading cause of teen deaths in the U.S. and 16% of young drivers involved in fatal accidents were driving distracted.

There are laws prohibiting texting and phone use while driving in many states but there is  no simple way to enforce them as many police departments are stretched due to the economy and need to focus on major crime.   So, what can be done to stop this growing and careless habit?    Any ideas?