Service of Watch Your Step

May 15th, 2014

Categories: Caution, Distracted Driving and Walking, Social Media

 texting while driving 1

I wrote about this topic last September after I saw a string of horrific car accidents in the city one after the other.

Why so soon again? I read Jill Abramson’s hair-raising article, “Struck on the Street: Four Survivors,” about the literal and figurative impact of being run over in which she described recuperating from her accident and the recovery of three of her now former colleagues at the New York Times. [Note: I wrote former colleagues as yesterday she was fired from her job as the executive editor of the paper of record, having nothing to do with this article, I’m sure.]

watch your stepA subtext: Watch your step.

In spite of all the communication going on via texts, tweets and whatever, word hasn’t reached enough people about the national distracted driving campaign launched last month. Waiting to cross 50th Street last week, the middle-aged driver of a humongous black SUV was texting frantically when his light turned green. He didn’t move and the taxis behind him went nuts honking. Off he drove, making a left on First Avenue, continuing to text and never once looking up.

texting while driving 2I yell at drivers who ignore lights and endanger pedestrians and I was shocked by that scene and how in an instant he could have ruined a life or worse.

I’m a lifelong New Yorker and jay-walker but the rules have changed: There aren’t any. I’ll have to change my ways. What will it take for drivers to do their part and put down their smartphones: Huge fines? incarceration? more senseless injuries and deaths?

 texting while driving 3

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5 Responses to “Service of Watch Your Step”

  1. EAM Said:

    Jeanne,
    I used to drive on Rt. 80 daily to work out in NJ and I found it truly hair-raising to watch people steer with their knees as they read and texted while driving. I heard on the radio this week that NY State was making a concerted effort to crackdown on this. There was a NY officer who phoned in to say that if you’re stopped at a light or on the road but the car is not moving and you’re even holding the phone, you will get a ticket. People think that it’s OK to text even when the car isn’t moving. Not so. I find that even when I wear an earpiece and I’m driving, I have difficulty because my focus has shifted.

  2. Hang'em Henry Said:

    Frankly, I don’t give a damn if people want to kill themselves with their new fangled machines. The world is way overpopulated anyway. However, as you so rightly point out, they are just as, if not more so, likely to kill us instead.

    Should we pass a law permanently denying access to computers to anyone caught texting and driving? They might think twice.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:

    EAM,

    I admit to driving with the radio on–though not loudly so that the car shakes as it does for some– but would be afraid to put music directly in my ears as I might not hear someone calling for help or honking me to avoid danger.

    I, too, heard about the effort in NYC to fine drivers breaking the law though I didn’t see any of the action. There has to be much more of this and hefty fines to get through to some people.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Harry,

    The computer industry would stop a law as you describe it. When I lived on an Air Force base there would be a smooshed car at the entrance/exit and a huge sign that read something like “The driver was saved by wearing his seatbelt.” People balked at the intrusion on their privacy they felt the seatbelt laws caused, plus they weren’t used to using them and found doing so annoying. Scaring people was one of the ways enforcers got the message across.

    If a driver who is texting gets hurt that’s too bad and his/her fault. The SUV driver I described wouldn’t have felt anything had he run over a pedestrian and the pedestrian might have died or been crippled for life–that’s the chilling part of this.

  5. Lucrezia Said:

    I’m not conscious of recently enacted vehicular laws, but if texting and chatting on phone are treated in the same way as driving drunk, it’s possible related accidents will decrease. Bubbleheads are everywhere, and are just as lethal and stupid as those in New York City. Let’s not be fooled; this habit of being tied to phone or pad is every bit as addictive as alcohol – perhaps even more so.

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