By David Colmans
There is a commercial that you may have seen for a gadget that connects to your cell phone and you set your car FM radio to 93.something and it allows you to use your cell phone hands-free while you drive so you can “keep both hands on the steering wheel and your eyes on the road.”
There’s just one problem. The pitchman in the commercial looks away from the road while he’s talking on his little $19.95 device and is clearly not looking at the road while he talks.
What’s wrong with that picture? It sums up the problems many motorists have with all these handy new devices for the on-the-go driver.
• The Blue Tooth device you put in your ear so you can talk and drive at the same time.
• The GPS system.
• The sophisticated radio/CD/MP3 or iPod player.
• The voice recognition add-on so you can talk to your car and ask for a phone number which it dials for you.
How many more ways are there to set yourself up for a major roadway crash that could be the death of you?
When you come down to it, being an impaired driver, whether from beer and wine, hard liquor or chemicals, is another form of distracted driving.
Don’t forget texting so you can spend even more time not watching the road.
Now, let’s look at how that impacts our lives at the holidays. The Georgia State Patrol estimated that 2,226 crashes would occur over the Christmas holiday weekend, resulting is 976 injuries and 18 fatalities.
Add to that the prediction of 2,330 traffic crashes over the New Year’s holiday weekend, with an expected 1,004 injuries and 16 fatalities.
Between severe weather driving conditions and severely thoughtless drivers, it means the rest of us must pay even more attention when driving. That includes not following too closely to the vehicle in front of you, keeping your speed reasonable for road conditions, and remembering to use turn signals before changing lanes or making a turn so others will know what you are about to do.
In many states, including Georgia, headlights should be on at dawn and dusk. Those yellow lights on the front of your vehicle are called parking lights for a reason and should not replace headlights. Ditto for rainy conditions.
One last thing as we go down the highway of life. After the recent death of a teenager who was in a vehicle driven by a young lady that, by law, should not have had anyone in the car other than immediate family since she was 16 years old, please remember that everyone in your vehicle should either have on a seat belt or be in a child restraint seat.
Just for the sake of safety, let’s not end our holidays with a traffic crash, injured people or worse, or face the possibility of lawsuits, court time, jail time or having to live with the thought that our carelessness ended in someone’s hospitalization or death.
David Colmans is the executive director of the Georgia Insurance Information Service. Contact him at (770) 565-3806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.