Yesterday as I was leaving the parking lot of the (The Towers), a woman in a car coming in the opposite direction attempted to turn into a parking space. As she slightly overshot the parking space, I noticed she was talking on a cell phone. Her facial expression suggested she was deeply engrossed in her phone conversation, with her eyes staring off into space and not really paying attention to her surroundings. She put her vehicle in reverse without even looking behind her and attempted to correct her approach into the parking space. I noticed she was backing directly toward my vehicle, and noticing both of our driver side windows were down, I yelled, "Hang up and drive!"
The woman proceeded to tell me to tell me to shut up, and told me it is my job to sit and wait while she parks her car. I told her I had no issue with that, but reminded her that it is illegal to drive under the influence of a cell phone. She then replied, "I don't care about what I am supposed to do or not do." I told her that that was obvious. She then proceeded to pull her car out in front of me, and told me she would block me from being able to leave. I shut my engine off, took out my textbook and told her that was fine, that I had plenty of time and would just do some reading. She replied she had plenty of time too. I pointed out to her that I wasn't sure how much time the other folks had that she was blocking from getting through. She then replied, "Well maybe I will let them through but not you." I just shrugged my shoulders and coolly opened my book. She finally decided to pull into the parking space, still with the phone glued to her ear and her eyes in space. At that point I just drove away recognizing it was not worth trying to reason with someone who was so immature.
So, was I in the wrong by wanting this woman to pay attention to her driving and not back into my car? She was the one breaking the law, not me. Worse, her words and actions seemed to indicate that she had no regard for the law or the safety of other people. So what's up with drivers talking on cell phones? Are they just common criminals who disregard the law? Or are they just ignorant of the fact that their actions place everybody's safety at risk? Do they assume that they are capable of this type of multi-tasking, and that nothing bad could ever happen to them? Or maybe they are just addicted to being "connected" all the time. Even so, a hand-free device does not cost that much (although hands-free devices may not help that much, since some studies have suggested that the conversation is more distracting than the actual piece of hardware).
It absolutely amazes me how many people I see on the road talking on their phones even though the cell phone law has been in effect for quite a while now. The fact that talking on a cell phone while driving is dangerous is not new information. Check out this link to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1997 that found that while talking on a cell phone, a driver is 4 times more likely to get into a crash. That is also equivalent to driving with a 0.08 percent blood alcohol level.
I was glad to see our local law enforcement conduct a . I hope they cited a lot of violators. I would like to see the cell phone laws get tougher, perhaps as tough as the law that prohibits people from driving under the influence of alcohol, since both of these behaviors are killing people on the road.