Cell phonitis hits too close to home

Cell phonitis hits too close to home by Bob Karolevitz There was a time, long ago, when driving hazards included boiling radiators and tires that were always going flat. Now it's cell phones.

I wasn�t going to write about them because columnists everywhere have vented their spleen on the subject, but I changed my mind. It happened when a young lady � with a Cellular One glued to her ear � whipped around a corner in her bright red sports car and just about clobbered me.

I forgot about Model A�s and graveled roads then as a new threat to our automotive safety was obvious.

�Do you suppose she was after me?� I asked Phyllis, quiveringly.

�No!� my wife replied. �She probably didn�t even know you were there. That�s the trouble with some cell-users; they�re oblivious when they�re talking on the phone.�

�Well, I�m not oblivious,� I said. �I make a pretty big target, and she just about got a bullseye,� I added, still shaking.

After surviving five years of World War II and the Korean Conflict, I didn�t want to be done in by a young gal who was jabbering away on her cell phone when she should have been watching the road.

Come to think of it, though, the modern automobile has lots of other distractions, too. Take the �conversation mirror,� for instance. It was designed to make it possible for the driver to chit-chat with the passengers in the back seat without turning around � which is another good excuse for a driver to keep his or her eyes off the highway.

Then there is the voice-activated navigation system. A motorist, who is trying to hear a direction tip while weaving in and out of busy traffic, is as much of a driving hazard as a guy or gal with cell phonitis.

Radios are equally to blame. While a driver is fiddling around with a dial � or push-button � controls, steering becomes secondary, and soon another car goes into the ditch.

Now they�ve even got small television screens in the front seat so the motorist doesn�t have to miss a single segment of a soap opera. No telling how many crashes that will cause.

Will a microwave be next?

Yes, operating a car has become a full-time job, what with all the deer on the road these days. Shucks, even eating-while-driving can become dangerous, especially if the ice cream cone is dribbling down your tunic.

Maybe the good old days weren�t so bad after all. The Fords of my youth didn�t have all those sophisticated gadgets which make life so enjoyable now, but then they didn�t have the distractions, either.

Of course, when a fella has a gal seated beside him, you couldn�t blame him for not paying attention to his driving. He might even show off a bit, no matter what the year.

I started this column in a fit of pique because the blonde with the cell phone almost hit me, but I have cooled down now.

Maybe she had an emergency call. After all, that�s what cell phones are for.

� 2005 Robert F. Karolevitz

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