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Madman discuses the dangers of driving while distracted

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Posted: Thursday, March 22, 2012 5:33 am | Updated: 5:45 am, Mon Mar 26, 2012.

Today was going to be the day that I was going to drag myself out under the sun to begin getting my yards ready for spring. While winter has been stubbornly hanging around these past weeks, rain and subsequent sun has brought out the weeds.

As I mowed and weeded, my allergies flared up like a match in a fuel tank. During a sneeze attack, my wife came looking for me. She found me wiping my nose and gasping for air mid asthma attack.

“How was work?”

I managed to squeak between labored breaths. She proceeded to tell me her sister had been involved in an accident on her way to Stockton from San Diego. I dropped the mower bag and asked for details. Jordan explained that a driver on his cell phone caused her to lose control and roll her car.

Distracted drivers are nothing new, but their numbers are rapidly increasing. Now that smart phones are becoming an integral part of our everyday lives, drivers are becoming less involved in the drive and more into “can you hear me now?” I will readily admit that I am a little out of touch with staying in touch. Getting me on the phone at home is tough and ringing me up on the cell is impossible. I do however have some practical suggestions on how the social set can stay in touch safely.

Before I begin making any suggestions it is important to talk about bluetooth. “What is bluetooth?” you ask. “Have you been living in a box or a cave?” would be my response. Bluetooth is an open wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances (using short wavelength radio transmissions), thank you Wikipedia. If you are not a member of the geek brigade…bluetooth allows your phone to communicate with a hands free device like a car audio system or headset. The technology is standard on all smart phones, but even inexpensive phones now pack the technology.

My first suggestion is the least practical, but the most fun. Buy a new car. Almost every new car on the market has “bluetooth” connectivity as an option. Most new cars have very user friendly infotainment interfaces. My father can testify as to the ease of use of modern infotainment interfaces. My dad is great but he is as tech savvy as Fred Flintstone. The old man has mastered the Ford/Microsoft interface in his Lincoln MKX. These infotainment systems let you talk on the phone without touching the handset and some allow you to use voice commands to dial. The simple command “call home” now replaces the dangerous act of dialing the numbers one at a time. These bluetooth interfaces are not just for luxury cars most cars have these systems as an option.

Okay, so you don’t have a few grand to plunk down on a new car…no problem. For about one hundred dollars you can have a new in - dash stereo that is blue tooth compatible. The least expensive units go for well under a c - note and can be installed in an hour using basic hand tools. Some of the nicer units like Sony’s AppRadio system can link to your i phone and display your favorite Apple apps. These bluetooth enabled radios will sound great and keep your attention on the road.

I can’t possibly stress enough the consequences of driving while distracted. Lodi police are actively looking for people who talk, text and drive and the fines are getting steeper. The fines are only money, but causing a traffic collision is different story altogether. Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Frank Ryan can attest to the dangers of texting and driving. Ryan was text messaging when he crashed his Jeep in August of 2010. Unfortunately Ryan cannot tell you first hand about the dangers of distracted driving because he succumbed to his injuries and died at the scene. Please don’t drive distracted and watch out for those who do.

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