Time and place for everything

Published 8:43 am Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Someone once said that while driving you are less than five feet from death at any given time.

Think about that….if two vehicles are meeting each other while traveling in opposite directions on a two-lane road, the five-foot rule is perhaps correct.

No matter how safe a driver you may be, what about the other guy (or gal)? Are they as attentive to their surroundings?

To compound the element of danger in this day and age, what if the driver you’re meeting (or following for that matter) is pre-occupied with a cell phone call?

You can’t make me believe that a person’s mind is completely attuned to the chore of driving if they are on a cell phone. It makes no difference if that gadget is pressed against the driver’s ear or they have a hands-free option, they are still not focusing 100 percent on operating a motor vehicle.

Personally, I hate to receive a cell phone call while driving (I certainly do not make them unless there’s a dire emergency). It distracts me from my normal driving routine, which simply is my head on a pivot…keeping a watch out for what the other driver is doing; looking out at vehicles entering intersections where I have the right-of-way; keeping an eye out for pedestrians or animals that may cross your path.

I can’t imagine someone reading or sending a text message while driving. Talk about distraction…that’s the ultimate.

And what’s up with all the texting craze? Is our society eroding to the point where we don’t want to speak to each other? I’ve seen two young kids, teenagers, sitting next to each other in a restaurant sharing text messages. Open your mouth…trust me, it works!

But back to the safe driving lesson.

Last week, just as the light had turned green for my lane of travel on CC Road in Ahoskie, a driver, heading west on Memorial Drive, blew through the intersection. Other vehicles on both sides of Memorial had stopped, but not this Bozo. He was on a cell phone, oblivious to what was going on.

That peaked my curiosity. Coming in to work one morning, I was waiting at the light on the south side of the CC Road/Memorial Drive intersection. As the light turned green for those on the north side of CC Road, I watched closely as the drivers steered their vehicles onto Memorial. Of the 11, five were on cell phones.

According to the National Safety Council, cell phone use is to blame in 28 percent of all traffic accidents.

I’m reminded of the late Strother Martin’s (playing the role of Captain of a Florida prison camp) line in one of my favorite movies – “Cool Hand Luke” – when he said to the now late Paul Newman (portraying “Luke” in that film), “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”

We don’t have such a problem in 2010. What we do have are numerous ways to communicate and share information. From the palm of our hands we can make a phone call and receive the same, send/receive a text message, snap a photo and immediately share that photo, record a video, playback a video, read e-mail, send e-mail and surf the worldwide web. We can update our pages on social networks and send out a “Tweet.”

Having such technology at our fingertips away from home or away from the office is great. What we need to remember is a wise old saying…“There’s a time and place for everything.”

Cal Bryant is Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and Gates County Index. He can be reached at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207. Unless it’s an emergency, please avoid making contact with him by those means while driving.