Buckle up and put that phone down

April is Distracted Driving Awareness month.  Considering the car calamities that occur regularly on the road, such a proclamation should be year-round.

I bet if you asked a bunch of people in a room to raise their hands if they knew of anyone who was involved in some kind of accident due to a distracted driver, at least one hand would go up.

One out of every eight drivers uses a phone while behind the wheel as reported by the California Office of Traffic Safety in 2016.   Such distractions affect 80 percent of car accidents.

 According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost 3,500 died (16 percent of all fatal crashes) and 400,000 were injured in 2015 due to distracted drivers.

The AAA Foundation discovered that drivers ages 16-24, who use their phones one-fourth of the time while on the road, have the highest incidents of deadly accidents due to inattention.  In fact, six out of every 10 accidents involving teens is due to driver distraction.

Both my wife and I have been hit by drivers using phones, luckily minor collisions.

In one 24-hour period I observed at four-way stop intersections three drivers who were looking down at their laps or holding their phones near their heads barely stopping and rolling through the stop sign to the amazement of other drivers.

Just last week a young man was driving behind me on Kenneth Road.  Since I always check the driver’s face in my rearview mirror, I saw he was looking down more than half of the time.  The car ahead of me inched up to turn left so I couldn’t proceed.  But the kid behind me sensing movement started accelerating, then had to slam on his brakes to avoid rear-ending me.

I noticed a shocked look on his face.  So, I thought, “Good, now he knows not to use his phone while driving.”  Wrong.   He continued behind me for several blocks, constantly glancing down at his lap.  If a near-miss did not alter his behavior, what would?

What is scary about those who refuse to put their phones down while driving is that it doesn’t matter how defensively one drives, there is no protection against a person willfully breaking the law.   Many innocent people have lost their lives due to these selfish, self-absorbed menaces.

Cars should have sensors that prevent the car from operating if a driver is using a phone in any way, similar to navigation systems which do not work while the car is running.

It’s not just cell phone use that creates distracted drivers.  Everything from talking to eating to applying make-up can make a difference between a near-miss and a casualty.

And drivers with earbuds in their ears:  can they hear sirens or screams?

Peculiar that people have no problem texting while driving, but for some reason can’t use their blinkers, an action that would require less effort.

Instead of autonomous cars there should be signals that automatically go on if a driver turns his wheel a certain number of degrees in either direction.  That would also save automakers money since there would no longer be a need for the turn signal lever on steering wheel columns.

It seems that the only way a driver obeys the law is if an officer is spotted nearby.  That logic of “not to get caught” creates dangerous people on our highway who evidently count on others to obey the law.

Some neighbors have posted lawn signs that read, “drive like your kids live here.”  They should say “drive like your kids are in the other car.”

 

Why Do You Think They Call it Dope?

Before you vote for California’s Proposition 64 that will legalize recreational marijuana, read over the 32 pages in the state’s Official Voter Information Guide.  You may change your mind.

Like a tsunami that transforms the landscape, expect life to change:  more impaired people on the job, on the roads, and on the public assistance for health issues related to the drug.

Look for marijuana ads to appear on television, on radio, on billboards.

Watch for swaths of agricultural areas to start growing cannabis instead of vegetables.

Get ready for pot stores to pop up all over town.  Prop 64 mandates no establishment can be within 600 feet of a school or day care center.   That’s the length of four city blocks. Children will walk by the pot outlets, guaranteed.

Considering that the vast majority of Americans do not use marijuana, it is bewildering why voters would legalize something that is detrimental to the health of society.

Why would citizens who view cigarette smokers as lepers put out the open house sign for marijuana smokers?  I thought Californians were health conscious.

The state still lists marijuana as a carcinogen.  Tax dollars should not be used to approve the sale of more cancer-causing substances.

What concerns No on Prop 64 campaign spokesman Andrew Acosta the most is “how little people know about the industry” that they are about to legitimize, an industry involving investors whose sole desire is to make money cultivating and distributing a drug.

California, having lost companies to less regulated states, is on the verge of a new gold rush.   Instead of third world nations delivering drugs to the world, it will be California.

It has taken 20 years for Sacramento to figure out how to properly regulate the medical marijuana industry.  Prop 64 allows only one year to get it done correctly for recreational use.

“The only reason that California is rushing into legalization is to make money for the industry,” Acosta said.

The New York Times reports that “the market for both recreational and medicinal marijuana is projected to grow to $22 billion in four years from $7 billion this year if California says yes.”

Steve DeAngelo who runs a marijuana dispensary in Oakland told the newspaper that “my ultimate objective is to get this plant into the hands of every single human being on the planet,” calling marijuana “a religious spiritual thing.”

This is the mentality of those who are pushing legalization.

Just like tobacco companies, these firms care only about money, uninterested in repercussions to our society.

A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed that fatal traffic accidents involving drivers who used marijuana more than doubled in the state of Washington since the drug was legalized.

And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nationwide nighttime weekend drivers high on marijuana increased almost 50 percent from 2007 to 2014.

The AAA Foundation says that “there is currently no scientific way to predict impairment due to marijuana based on a blood test result.”  Still, voters are willing to roll the dice that eventually a test for impairment will magically surface as we use the streets and people as experiments.

Proponents of Prop 64 have faulty arguments.

  • That legalization will make the illegal market go away. Not true.  In Colorado, the black market for marijuana has increased after legalization.
  • That young people will be protected from trying the drug since the initiative stipulates that edibles cannot appeal to young people. No to lollipops and gummies, but yes to cookies and brownies.
  • That passing Prop 64 will stop the incarceration of people caught with marijuana. False. If you think our prisons are full of potheads, you probably are smoking something.
  • That marijuana is not harmful. Wrong again.   You don’t need a medical degree to know that smoking anything is not healthy.

Brains are not fully developed until age 25.  But at age 21, a person can start using marijuana, a drug that remains in the body’s tissues, including the brain.

Last week 60 Minutes aired a segment on the negative impact legalized pot has had in Colorado.   One doctor described the spike in babies born with traces of THC.

While I don’t want to put the potheads in jail, I do not want the government to validate their drug habit.   Leave the “look-the-other-way” system currently in place alone—no change necessary.

Someone who chooses to abuse their body does not have a right to harm society.