Morons on the road

On the phone

Dear TZO 421: If you have one hand holding a cigarette, and the other holding a mobile phone, how do you expect to be able to drive your car properly?

It’s astounding how many people drive along holding a phone to their ears. So stupid.

A couple of times earlier this century I tried having conversations with people while talking on a hands-free mobile phone. I quickly discovered that hands-free or not, it’s too distracting.

It didn’t amount to anything dangerous, but it was clear that for me, talking on the phone is way more distracting than listening to the radio, or talking to someone in the car, and the potential is there.

And so since then I have not used the mobile while driving, not at all. If I’m desperate to answer, I’ll pull over and do so; otherwise calls go to the voicemail.

(Well okay, I might look at a text when completely stopped at traffic lights, though I suspect that is technically illegal.)

Evidently you can’t report offenders like you can for littering, but you can have a whinge via the Rate The Plate web site.

Update 14/1/2009 America’s National Safety Council has called for an all-out ban on using mobile phones while driving, following studies that show hands-free phones pose as much danger as hand-held ones. — The Age: Drivers hold to hands-free phones

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

5 replies on “On the phone”

In these cases, I’m tempted to use the slippery slope argument that if someone’s incapable of driving sensibly, they’re also probably incapable of cooking spaghetti bolognaise or holding polite conversation with complete strangers. But perhaps I’m wrong…and since the slippery slope argument is a logic fallacy, it would seem that they might be able to cook a smashing bolognaise whilst holding dignified conversation.

But I digress…

I have seen this too and wondered “how can they drive a car at all!?!” I have also found that I have to pay much more attention to my driving here in Melbourne than I did in Miami as there are many more bicycles and pedestrians darting about. I also have much more experience driving on the other side of the road in the US (24+years). A mobile phone would be just too distracting for me and I will not use mine while driving. I don’t smoke so this is not a problem. Many newer cars don’t have an ashtray anymore either. I had thought that shifting gears with the opposite hand would be hard to get used to but actually this turns out to be as easy as driving a stick shift in the US and does not require any extra thought or effort. I still sometimes mix up the turn signal and wiper controls as these are on opposite sides of the steering wheel here in Australia.

Reuben, if cooking bolognaise ever resulted in fatalities, you might have a case.

Jed, if you try a European-made car (such as my Holden Astra) you’ll find the indicators on the left and the windscreen wipers on the right.

It is odd that there is a number to call to report a cigarette butt dropper or a smoking exhaust, more than likely a poor person, but apart from 000, who can I call when I see some criminally dangerous driving or some blonde bimbo in Chapel Street, a comfortably off person talking on her phone as she nearly skittles pedestrians crossing the road?

It is almost like the poor are being targeted for their bad smoking habit and their lack of funds to afford a new car. Yes, smoking exhausts are bad for the atmosphere, but how many are around? No one wants to be seen in a smoking exhaust old bomb. They are not going to be driving such a car for long, so I reckon ease off on them. It must be minimal environmental impact, unless you are following one with your ‘fresh’ air coming in.

So what is the number that I can call when I see someone talking on their mobile phone while driving and directly endangering other people? Ah, it is the rich too who talk on mobile phones while driving, those who would not be seen dead in a car with a smoking exhaust.

I remember getting a warning for smoky exhaust back when I was a P plater. And the thing was gushing these luxurious clouds of smoke while I was stuck in traffic on Bridge Rd going nowhere, enduring the embarrassment of it all.
I’d just got the car serviced but clearly some oil had gone into the exhaust or something because it cleared up soon after.
“Rate the plate” seems a bit petty but on the other hand, what do you do? With video phones these days maybe there should be a submission process or similar but again, digital can be doctored and the process abused so where does that leave someone witnessing truly idiotic behaviour?

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