Cellular Telephones: An Accident Waiting to Happen

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob Collins

The No. 1 cause of vehicular accidents in the state of Arizona is speeding. Care to guess the No. 2 cause?

Drinking? Nope, that's a distant No. 3. Drowsiness, falling asleep at the wheel? Nope, top five, but not No. 2. How 'bout road rage? Naw, gets a lot of headlines but is still fairly isolated. Angry and defiant young women driving even worse than their male counterparts (and Lord knows there's lots of that around)? Again, no.

The No. 2 cause of accidents in Arizona is cell phones. Actually, the cell phones don't cause the accidents, it's the people being distracted while using the cell phones that cause the problems. You know, like guns don't kill people, people using guns kill people.

And they tell me that the No. 2 cause is rapidly overtaking the No. 1 cause.

Don't you find that fascinating? Something that didn't even exist a very few years ago is now a leading cause of accidents.

People are wide awake, sober, and traveling well within the speed limit and they're running into each other all over the place.

Now let me ask you this: Aren't you guilty, too? Sure, you may have been lucky enough to not hit somebody, but chances are you've been driving with one hand and one eye while trying to dial that darn phone. I know I see it everyday and probably do it everyday.

Arizona seems to be winning the war against speeding, at least in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. People used to drive 80 miles an hour or more through the heart of town with never a thought about being stopped. I think the rule was the older and rattier your pickup, the faster you had to push it.

It was the manly thing to do. Even the young ladies were trying to be manly.

About two years ago that flat stopped. Now the locals drive slower than the blue-haired people from Minnesota.

Two things changed that stopped the speeders: photo cops and tougher judges.

Photo cops are the unmanned police cars equipped with radar and a camera. If you pass one of these and you're going over the speed limit, a picture is taken showing the driver, the vehicle (car, truck, motorcycle) and the license plate. A computer sends you a ticket. They also have installed cameras at intersections that take your picture if you try to sneak through on yellow and run the light.

You have the option of paying the ticket or going to court. …