Beware of cars, carts, cellphones
BY BOB ANDERSON
May 07, 2013
Like most motorists I’ve dodged distracted drivers.
But in a grocery, I didn’t expect to need evasive action to avoid a shopping cart pushed by a woman on a cellphone as she rushed from a side aisle without looking.
Like many drivers using cellphones, she focused only on her phone and what was immediately in front of her.
Tunnel vision is something I’ve noticed in drivers with cellphones pressed to their ears. Never expect one to let you merge into traffic.
And, like the shopping-cart talker, the distracted drivers I’ve swerved to avoid usually don’t seem to know they’ve almost been in an accident.
Once the moment of near collision with the shopping cart woman passed, I laughed at the absurdity. That wasn’t my reaction recently to the distracted driver of an SUV.
She was reading as I passed her.
I’ve seen that a few times but was amazed when she passed me a few moments later. She was still reading and now she was also talking on her cellphone. A couple of fingers of the hand that held the paper also guided the vehicle.
A sudden realization of the seriousness of what she was doing choked off my laugh.
As a police reporter in younger days, I saw a lot of smashed bodies in cars and dead or dying people strewn about highways. Those are horrible scenes, especially when they involve children.
Once, when my own children were in the car, a guy adjusting his radio smashed into the rear of our vehicle, which was stopped to turn. Had my wheels been turned left as we waited, he would have shoved us into an oncoming vehicle.
My father, who taught me not to angle my wheels when waiting to turn, also taught me not to take my eyes off the road. Eye contact isn’t necessary when talking to passengers, he said.
His advice was forever imprinted into my memory a short time later when I got a summer job working on a road construction crew.
One day I got stuck holding signs to slow or stop traffic on a main road onto which we were connecting.
I dutifully put up the stop sign as our road grader pulled onto the main road, but I realized the oncoming car wasn’t slowing.
As it barreled toward me and the grader, I saw the driver looking at his passenger as he talked.
She began gesturing wildly toward me. As I jumped clear, the car sped past, skidded onto the opposite shoulder and somehow missed a violent collision with the grader.
I hope my passengers don’t think I’m rude because I don’t give them more than a glance when we talk.
My changing of radio stations is limited to pushing preset buttons. Texting or dialing a cellphone while driving strikes me as an invitation to disaster.
I’d feel safer if people didn’t even do it when pushing shopping carts.
Advocate Florida Parishes bureau chief Bob Anderson welcomes comments by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.