Hang Up and Drive, Cell Phone Addicts!

Two friends of mine were injured in car wrecks recently. Jerry, the lucky one, was rear-ended by an SUV that put him on workers' comp for months.

Two friends of mine were injured in car wrecks recently. Jerry, the lucky one, was rear-ended by an SUV that put him on workers comp for months. Laura will spend at least a year in a wheelchair, thanks to the guy who swerved across the yellow line and into her Taurus grille.

The ignorant morons who butchered my friends were fiddling with cell phones.

Whenever I take my 10-year-old son to school, I see fools swerving through the chaotic parking lot with one hand on the wheel and the other glued to their ears. I get so outraged I want to haul them through their windshields and scream, "Kill your own kid, not mine!"

Crack addicts have milder denial issues than cell phone junkies. You can drive and talk at the same time, right? Bull. Driving while using a cell phone quadruples the odds of an accident, according to a two-year study of 742 drivers, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1997 by University of Toronto medical professor Don Redelmeier.

"This relative risk is similar to the hazard associated with driving with a blood alcohol level at the legal limit," the study reported.

Dont tell me you can handle it. Thats what drunks say right before they commit vehicular manslaughter.

Dont tell me you cant afford to be incommunicado during your two-hour commute or between appointments, either. Fix your life, before you wreck someone elses.

Hands-free phones are bogus "solutions" to the problem. When only half of your attention is on the road—as it would be if the call was really that important—youre a menace. Why have parents yelled, "Shut up back there and let me drive!" since Henry Fords day? Stop denying common sense.

The industrys excuse that car phones "save lives in emergencies" reeks of manure. Pull over if you have an emergency! If its a wreck, youre already stopped, right?

Oh, so youre chasing a child molester who just kidnapped a little girl? Congratulations; youll doubtless win the lottery later today. That far-fetched base is easily covered.

Cars and phones can be equipped to communicate with each other. For example, while the wheels are turning, only outbound calls to 911 are permitted. Deal with it.

The lobbyists wont let our dully (sic) elected Congress critters pass effective safety legislation. But insurance companies effectively promote car alarms; perhaps they could push the above technological solution.

Thirteen countries, five U. S. towns and two New York counties ticket drivers for driving under the influence of phones (DUIP). New York City is poised to ban DUIP, after the citys traffic safety group blamed cell phones for 20 deaths and 3,239 injuries in its town alone. Fines would range from $50 to $300.

Thats not enough. DUIP should rank right up there with driving under the influence of alcohol in terms of fines, license points, mandatory rehab classes and social censure. Forget that company car if youve been convicted of DUIP.

Go ahead, ask me what I think of the proposed Web-enabled cars. Then get ready to duck.