5.27.2008

Windshield warriors

Many people have become so attached to their cell phones, they've become like gun owners -- you'll take their phones only when you pry them from their cold, dead hands.

Which, if they're using the phone while driving, is exactly what can happen.

Numerous studies have found that talking on a cell phone while behind the wheel is such a distraction, is so debilitating to attentiveness, the motorist might as well be driving drunk. All over the country, lawmakers are drafting bans on talking-on-the-phone-while-driving in an attempt to stem the rising tide of phone-related accidents.

(California's hands-free-phoning-only law takes effect July 1.)

Imagine my surprise then when, while thumbing through a business magazine, I saw this headline: "If You're a Windshield Warrior, Here's the Technology to Make Your Car Your Desk."
What followed was an article that described such hot new gizmos as hands-free cell phones, GPS navigation systems, wireless headphones, DVD players, satellite radio subscriptions and wireless Internet access. These technological wonders are described as "very cool new tools . . . to turn the cockpit of your car into a terrific office."

This makes as much sense as saying you can turn your office into a car. Or your airplane seat into a "flotation device."

Just when you thought it couldn't get any scarier on the roadways, here comes a whole new generation of motorist distractions. It's bad enough that other drivers are weaving all over the road, yakking with their friends and eating fast food while steering with their knees. Now we've got to worry that the guy in the speeding SUV next to us is reading his e-mail? Or, mapping out his next destination on a GPS locator? Or, God help us, watching "Mad Max" on his DVD?

Call me an old fogey (you wouldn't be the first; I've got teen-agers at home), but I remember when driving was considered a matter of complete concentration. Hands on the wheel at 10 and 2 o'clock, eyes on the road, mind on full alert. When you were driving, you weren't doing anything else.

Now, drivers are doing everything else, except watching where they're going. Which leaves the rest of us terrified, clutching the wheel in a death-grip while our fellow motorists drift from lane to lane.

You'll never catch me using a cell phone while driving. One, I don't feel competent enough as a driver or a cell phone user to do both at the same time. Two, I usually forget to take the phone with me so it languishes at home while I'm chugging around in my car. Three, I don't have so many friends or so much urgent business to conduct that I need to talk and drive at the same time. Phone calls can wait. I'm busy dodging the other gabbing motorists.

I'll never, ever, get those other technological toys to use in the car. It's just too dangerous. I love e-mail as much as the next fellow, but trying to manage it while behind the wheel could give a whole new meaning to the term "computer crash." A GPS locator? I'd rather be lost. Better to pull over and use a regular old road map. Or, (insert gasp of horror from male readership here) ask someone for directions.

But if you insist on using your car for an office, I have a suggestion. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on all these gimcracks, use the money to hire a chauffeur. Then you can sit in the back seat and work all you want while a professional handles the driving.

Hire a driver who can sing, and you won't even need the radio. Just make sure the chauffeur knows to hold it down when you're on the phone.

1 comment:

Phil Fountain said...

Steve, I think this mindset prevades our society. "Office in your car," sums it up.

It is getting increasingly difficult to "do just that thing you are doing."

Sorry, gotta go, I've got "Beyond Thunderdome" running in another window at its to the part I like...Tina Turner's legs.