It was a scene to remember – with fright. On Interstate 40 outside of Chapel Hill, at rush hour, a driver is moving along in the left lane at 60 miles per hour, and perched in the middle of the steering wheel is her cell phone, but she’s not just talking. She’s on “Facetime.”
Sadly, the scene is not preposterous, and the Travelers Companies, an insurance firm, has launched a national campaign about distracted driving, called “Every Second Matters,” which began last week with a forum at N.C. State University. The idea is to at least raise awareness of the increasing dangers of distraction, primarily cell phone use with all its texting and the like. This is something of which everyone is aware, and something that draws penalties in most states – but something law enforcement admits is difficult to enforce.
This campaign is needed. A hundred campaigns are needed. About 20 percent of fatal crashes involve a driver who was distracted. It is utterly maddening to have to ponder why people continue to use cell phones while driving, and text, when they know that a split second could cost them their lives. Will the day come when automobile manufacturers and phone companies devise a way to shut phones off when cars start, or to at the least find a technical device to restrict usage in a car to hands-free calls only? That sounds drastic.
But the increasing accident rate is drastic as well. And inconvenience is a small price to pay – for life.