Hidden Dangers of Texting While Driving


There are streets in my neighborhood that have bike lanes present, which is kind of nice when you commute everywhere by bike, as I do. I’m told that if a bike lane exists bikers must use them as opposed to the sidewalk. Most of my commute is done on a sidewalk because a the road that leads to where I work doesn’t have a bike lane. Despite what good shape I am in after riding a bike everywhere I go for over a year I can’t sustain enough speed over 4.5 miles to use the actual street. The way people drive not hat road, I’d get killed for sure.

That is not to say that the sidewalk is completely safe either. You see, driver do not expect bikes to be crossing the side streets’ cross walks. I’ve actually been hit in a cross walk. Thank God it was more of a bump than anything else, but it did damage my bike and gave me a bruise. Here’s the math on that: 2500# car vs 10# bike + 230# rider = injured bike rider. Drivers don’t pay attention to motorcyclists, let along bicyclists. Anyway, I’m the one who watches out and so far I have avoiding being run down though there have been well over a dozen close calls.

The point of this blog is a hidden danger, though. You see, I’m aware of the cross walk danger and I am paying close attention to vehicles coming and going around intersections. What I cannot force is a distracted driver swerving into the bike lane from behind me – which happened the other day and resulted in a close call. The cause? Well, the lady had a smartphone in her hand and I assume she had been texting. Then, about five minutes later, I’m at a cross walk waiting for the light to change so I can proceed safely through a busy intersection. There was a duffus sitting there texting away while the light was red . It changed while he was still texting and the guys behind him honked to alert him. Having just experiencing what I did earlier with a car I wondered to myself what if he was texting and didn’t notice the light was red I was crossing with he light in the cross walk?

I have a lot of issues with people and their cell phones. Yes, I have a smart phone too. I use it on occasion, when absolutely necessary. But I refrain from using it whenever I should be paying attention to something else. I don’t know how I could use it while riding a bike although I have seen people riding along with a cell phone in one hand. Really!

What is so damned important that the text message you just received can’t wait? Do you need to answer every friggin’ message immediately? More to the point, is it worth risking your life or someone else?

There have been several studies done that indicate text messaging while driving is by far more dangerous than driving under the influence. The reason school be clear. Even a drunk is paying attention to the road and trying to keep the car between the white lines. I’d be inclined to say let fools kill themselves with their ignorance except there is potential for innocent lives to be lost int he process – other drivers, pedestrians and bikers. Yet, despite laws against texting while driving it still goes on.

I know the laws are difficult to enforce. But perhaps the penalty for being caught doing it should be elevated to make the risk of it a stronger deterrent. You see, drunk drivers can lose their licenses or go to jail. Texting while driving will get you a stiff fine.

I’m gong to sound like an old man here, and since I am turning 59 tomorrow, maybe that’s fitting. But back in the day when people didn’t have a phone with them at all times we had to leave messages on answering machines. The world didn’t end just because the caller had to wait for an hour or two to get a response. Again, I ask: what is so damned important that every message needs an immediate response?

Me crop 2

#texting #biking #driving  #TextingWhileDriving