I’ve been walking a lot this year all over Falmouth but mostly in the downtown area. You notice a lot more on foot than in a car, and one thing that I’ve noticed a great deal of is something which sadly seems to be an epidemic in our town. (No, not the littering and the liquor nips—that’s another story.) I’m talking, of course, about texting while driving.
This epidemic afflicts the young and the old, male and female, those in shiny new luxury cars and those in rusty old clunkers. It can be seen on main roads and dirt roads, highways and parking lots alike. One texter came inches from hitting me as she stared at her lap while exiting a business onto a busy street. She apologized and drove off, gazing down at her phone again.
It’s not always texting. Sometimes I can’t help yelling, “Eyes on the road!” or “Don’t text and drive!” Some people are so offended that they need to stop and confront me (obviously they have the moral high ground—breaking the law and endangering others—over me for calling them on it).
One lady jumped out of the passenger seat to angrily inform me that her husband hadn’t been texting, he’d been looking up directions. Meanwhile, she’d been staring down at her own phone. Two little kids in the car. Unbelievable.
Human beings are great at multitasking but when one of the tasks is piloting a multi-ton piece of metal down a public street, sacrificing one’s full attention in order to send or read a text, Google a map, or otherwise play with one’s phone is selfish in the extreme.
Drunk driving has become less socially acceptable but texting and driving seems to be treated with a wink and a nod, despite the fact that it now causes one of every four car crashes in the US—that’s 1.6 million accidents every year, with nearly 400,000 injuries or deaths. (Numbers are from the National Safety Council.)
Please for the pets, the kids, the pedestrians, the bicyclists, the motorcyclists, the other drivers and yourself, don’t do it!
And, if you are a passenger, remind the driver.
Peter J. Stegeman