Thursday, July 31, 2014

Stop the Texts, Stop the Wrecks

(Reclaimed from Bubblews.)

Well, now I'm seeing a variety of ads on Bubblews...but all day I've been seeing those public service ads. "Stop the texts, stop the wrecks." Why am I seeing those ads? How do they relate to the Bubbles I'm reading, or the ones I've written?

Maybe in an offsite way...I have a Blogspot blog. For most of the year it's supposed to be about vintage books and hand-knitted items you can buy by e-mailing the blog. In January and February it's supposed to be about the Virginia General Assembly. We take sides for and against specific proposed legislation, although last winter nobody felt terribly passionate about any of it. Anyway, one bill we passionately supported, which has been enacted into law, makes it illegal to talk or text on a hand-held phone while driving in Virginia.

If you are familiar with the S-shaped curve of Route 23 as it passes under that narrow railroad bridge between Gate City and Clinchport, and if you have ever been in a car with someone who was steering through that curve with one elbow while checking the caller ID and deciding to answer a cell phone call, and if you have ever imagined walking under that bridge at the same time that that car was on the road, you'll know why Gena Greene, Grandma Bonnie Peters, and I all felt we needed a law against Distracted Driving. The part of Route 58 known as the Bristol Highway in Gate City and as the Gate City Highway in Bristol is another road that ought to make our position clear to anyone who thinks about it. So is the road between Gate City and Nickelsville. Actually, Virginia has a lot of roads like that.

We are not opposed to people talking on cell phones while they are stuck in traffic for 45 minutes on Route 66 outside Washington. The law says nothing about that. It bans talking or texting while driving a moving vehicle. Explaining why your vehicle is not moving is legal.

We heard one valid complaint about the ban on Distracted Driving from a mother trying to talk a teenager through a difficult situation, while both of them were driving to the same place from different directions. "I can't hear the speaker phone from the seat," the mother said. We usually say "Pull over and talk, or hang up and drive. Choose one," but if you anticipate a need to use your phone to steer somebody through an unfamiliar neighborhood, I recommend buying a headset phone. They've been around long enough not to be terribly expensive, but they're still cool.