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by Ron Cruger
Save me from multi-tasking drivers!
         The most recent survey, conducted by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons finds that 99 percent of drivers report seeing other drivers talking on a cell phone, but 61 percent report that they have also done it. Thirty to 44-year-olds most frequently admitted to eating or drinking, talking on a cell phone or reaching in the back seat of the car while driving.
          Those are pretty high percentages of drivers who are in charge of steering a two-ton hunk of steel, glass and rubber down the street at fifty miles an hour or more. For those of you who DWD (Driving While Distracted) your luck may run out and you or someone you smash into could be crippled for life Ė or even dead!
          Seeing a young mother driving a gigantic SUV, sipping on a cup of Starbuckís coffee, eyeing her three children in the back seat through her rear view mirror and frequently turning around to talk with them while her vehicle barrels down a city street is a frightening vision and a portent of possible disaster.
          Armed with some frightening statistics, I decided to conduct a survey of my own.
I would stand at the corner of a major intersection in my town and watch as vehicles turned right, that way I could look into the cars and trucks and see what the drivers were doing as they turned the corner.
          So, the last two Thursday I stationed myself at the busy intersection, reporterís notebook and pen in hand. Hereís what I saw in the seventy five minutes that I took my very unscientific surveys:
          10 drivers were holding their cell phones and texting
            6 drivers were grooming themselves (make up, hair, lipstick, etc.)           
          11 drivers appeared to be too old to be driving (they didnít appear to be in full control of their vehicles)
            8 drivers were turning towards their front seat passengers and talking with them.           
          16 drivers were talking on their cell phones ( cell phone in hand)
          12 drivers were eating while driving
            6 drivers were turning around attempting to talk with their children in the rear seat
            8 drivers were drinking from a cup.
            4 drivers had dogs on their laps with the dogs leaning out the driverís window           
          12 drivers didnít make complete stops on red lights
          11 drivers were eating food while turning.
          21 drivers obeyed the law and didnít appear to be DWD.
          Remember, my survey was un-scientific, but the real one by the Orthopaedic Surgeons found that men (24 percent) are more likely than women (18 percent) to think they can multi-task while driving.
          Statistics are proving that DWD driving has become an epidemic on our roads. The National Safety Council estimates that at least 1.6 million crashes, 28 percent of the total, are caused by drivers using cell phones or texting.
          Now get this: when drivers who had an accident while DWD were asked, many said they would repeat the dangerous behavior. It appears that the draw of talking on a cell phone while driving is more overpowering than their safe arrival at a destination.
          If you feel safe and secure while driving consider not only those who are DWD, but the drivers who have been drinking, drivers who are suffering from the perilous effects of prescribed medications or drivers who have recently indulged in illegal drugs, or those drivers who are mentally challenged, or drivers who have paranoid tendencies or drivers who have ďonly had a few beers,Ē or drivers who just smoked some pot (and insist they can handle it), or drivers whose vision is impaired and donít wear their glasses.
          The next time youíre in your trusty vehicle take a look around you and estimate how many drivers fall into one of the categories listed above. It might give you some new awareness of the perils surrounding you on the road.
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