We have a problem!
My wife and I traveled to Kansas City on Friday to spend the evening with her folks in order to celebrate the Mother’s Day holiday. Three of our four children reside in Kansas City, so we are frequently on the road to spend time with them. We have noticed over the years that as we drive down the interstate the number of drivers peering at their cell phones or actually typing something on their phone has increased.
We were following a tractor-trailer rig some months back and, as we approached it on the inside lane of the freeway, the rig drifted off the road several times and then drifted back into the left lane. I commented to my wife that the driver was probably on his cell phone. Sure enough, as we passed him in the left lane, Paula glanced up and over and he was indeed looking at his cell phone. He was not talking on the phone. He was reading something on the phone!
This is a common practice anymore. Last Saturday on that same highway near Platte City, Mo., a pickup slammed into the rear of a stopped vehicle with three occupants. There was road construction taking place, and traffic was stopped. The Highway Patrol report stated that the driver of the pickup slammed into the stopped vehicle at full speed and there was no reason for it because of the clear field of view approaching the construction. Three people from the Effingham area sitting in the parked vehicle were killed. The driver of the pickup and his passenger were taken to a local hospital with serious injuries.
Why did this happen? Was the driver of the pickup looking at his cell phone? One would have to wonder, considering the current behavior of drivers today, if that was indeed the case. Once the accident investigation is completed, we will know the answer to that question, and I will not be surprised if that was indeed the case.
One of the girls in the office was dropping her children off at the elementary school on Monday morning. She was sitting on one of the side streets off Oregon Street. When I was relating my weekend experience about cell phone usage of drivers on the interstate, she said that nearly every single driver heading down Oregon Street was looking at their phone! What in the world is going on with us?
I have to admit that I have done the same thing many times. My wife began to yell at me every time I looked at my phone until I finally got the message and quit doing it. I have still caught myself doing it when I am in a hurry, but it has got to stop.
Things happen in a split second when we are driving a vehicle, and we should not be glancing at a phone. In the blink of an eye, we might run over someone in a crosswalk such as at the elementary school. It only takes a second to look away from the road and glance at a phone, and someone pulls out in front of us and then it is too late.
It used to be that the biggest fear upon driving on our roadways was the driver who was or had been consuming alcohol. Not anymore! Our biggest concern today is that the car that is approaching us on the highway has a driver behind the wheel that is messing with his cell phone! We should be very concerned about this imminent danger. As parents, we need to stress to our kids to put the cell phone away until we are stopped. But it is not just kids who are involved in this risky behavior. It involves all of us!
I don’t have the answer for solving this epidemic of cell phone use while driving, but something needs to happen. I know that certain areas have laws about texting while driving. I have not researched the specifics of this, but there needs to be strict enforcement of these laws.
After last weekend I made a pact with myself to put the phone away and not touch it until my vehicle is at a stopping point. Yes, we as people have a problem with our phones. We are addicted to having them in our hand for some kind of stimulation at all times. Driving should not be one of those times!
Tim Kellenberger120 Posts
Tim Kellenberger serves as Owner, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief for The Sabetha Herald since 2004. He specializes in sports reporting and column writing, as well as sports photography. Tim is a Grace University graduate with a dual degree in agricultural economics and human resource management. He lives in rural Sabetha with his wife and has four grown children and two grandchildren.