My Spousal Unit took the Harley into the city yesterday. He returned unscathed, but a bit shaken. A young women nearly drove him off the road. She was so busy on her cell phone, that she didn’t even see him as she changed lanes. Fortunately my husband saw her heading for him, so he sped up and moved over as far as he could go. But with another car in front of him, and a high curb on his right, he could only go so far.
Fortunately his evasive actions were enough. He was philosophical about the dangers of riding a motorcycle – “It wouldn’t have mattered whether I was in a car or on the bike – she just didn’t look where she was going. The problem wasn’t what I was driving. The problem was that she was driving AND talking. Clearly she can’t do both at the same time.”
So, as I see it, the biggest danger of using a cell phone is that it causes accidents. Of course, there are suggestions that cell phone overuse can increase the risk of some types of tumours in the head, but I don’t really care what kind of damage a cell phone does to the user. I do care about what that persons cell phone use might do to me or my family. Running into any of us with their car while chatting on the phone is something that would really make me angry. And as my kids have pointed out, an angry mom is not a good thing.
Now, many people are calling on the Government to make laws banning the use of cell phones while driving. But I don’t think that is the whole answer. Laws are only as good as the enforcement that goes with it, and on a day to day basis, the police don’t have time to respond to every complaint involving distracted drivers.
No, I think the monitoring of cell phone use should come from within the cell phone itself. Phones these days are pretty smart. So why can’t they just quit working when they sense they are in a moving vehicle? I watched a show the other day about a cell phone application that can sense the difference between how people walk. The owner can use the app to train the phone to recognize how they walk. If the person’s phone gets stolen, then the app recognizes that the thieves walking gait is wrong, so the app locks up the phone before the thief can use it. So how hard would it be for cell phone manufacturers to build phones that refuse to work in a moving vehicle?
Here are some other things I think Cell Phones should be able to do:
- They should be able to sense how close they are to the phone that they are being asked to call. If the distance is less than a certain distance, let’s say half a mile, then the phone would simply refuse to dial. It would then display a digital message that said, “Get off your lazy butt and walk over to _____’s house and talk to them in person.” (The phone would fill in the blank, because the phone is pretty smart.)
- All phones would have built-in GPS technology. The phone would know exactly where it was, and would refuse to work if it was in places like Theatres, Concert Halls, Doctors Offices, and my living room while you were visiting me.
- The cell phone would remember exactly where you parked your car at the shopping centre, sports stadium or gigantic amusement park. You wouldn’t even have to tell the phone that it should remember that for you. The phone would just do it, because it knows you are going to forget.
Personally, I don’t much like cell phones. I only turn mine on when I want to call someone, and that isn’t very often. And I’m not into text messaging. My Spousal Unit and I tried to text one another just once, and decided it probably wasn’t for us. Part of the problem was that he was in Scotland, and I was in Canada. He started off by sending me a text message, then had to phone me to tell me to turn my phone on so I could read the message. By the time I had figured out how to respond to his text message with my text message, several hours had gone by. So he got my text message well after he had gone to bed, but it woke him up, because he leaves his phone on. That was the last time we “texted”.
Cell phones keep getting more and more complicated. I was happy when all they did was let you phone someone, or answer a call. But they do a whole lot more stuff now. Unfortunately the people who write the manuals to tell you how to use the features haven’t gotten any better at writing manuals. English isn’t their first, second or even third language, it seems.
So, I carry around a basic, no frills cell phone on the off chance that someday I will be stuck in a snowstorm somewhere without food, water or shelter, and need to be rescued. I hope I do that someplace where I have cell phone coverage…