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Darrell Huckaby - Errant thumbs make for touch-and-go driving

I was walking through the living room the other day and happened to glance at the television just as a promo for a special segment on the upcoming news program aired.

OK. I'll come clean. I was reared back in my recliner with my shoes off and my big toe poking through a torn sock watching "Oprah" when a promo for a special segment on the upcoming news program aired. That's not the point. The point is what the segment was about.

Now get this. According to the teaser, the Georgia General Assembly is thinking about making a law to prevent teens from talking on cell phones and texting while driving.

Here's my question: Are we so stupid as a people and lacking in common sense that we have to have a law to keep us from texting while driving?

That dull roar you hear is thousands of readers responding to my inquiry with a resounding "Yes!" I have no problem with the proposed law, although honesty compels me to admit that I did not see the actual news story because, honey, when Oprah was done, so was I. But why limit the law to teens? The rest of us are just as likely to be distracted by phone conversations as younger drivers.

I freely admit that I talk on the phone way too much while behind the wheel of a car. If you get right down to it, talking at all is probably too much, but I know I am not as bad as some.

I have certain friends, who shall remain nameless, who can't get in an automobile without taking out their phone and punching in somebody's number. I don't mean they press "1" for this person or "2" for that person, either. Their fingers start flying over the keypad, dialing this number and that and talking to every "who shot John" you can name while navigating the perilous highways of metro Atlanta, which is already tough enough if all you are doing is driving.

Forget the danger factor. It offends me that they want to talk on the phone to everybody else under the sun instead of me. The fact that they are taking my life into their hands to do it just adds insult to injury. But these people don't stop with just making calls. I have seen one person I know balance a checkbook on one knee and a credit card on the steering wheel and pay monthly bills by phone while weaving in and out of rush-hour traffic, and I have seen others send e-mails to multiple recipients while passing vehicles at 70-plus mph.

They call that texting, I believe. It started out as a generational thing but has begun to spill over into the adult population. I, myself, can send a text message - if I am standing under a high-powered beam of light and peering at my cell phone through a magnifying glass. I would never attempt it while driving. All three of my children, however, can type a message and send it in seconds flat, as if being able to do so was the only reason God gave us thumbs.

I can only presume that more and more people are sending those messages while driving - or at least enough are to make the Legislature consider making it illegal.

But why stop there? There are tons of other things people do while operating motor vehicles. Just take a drive down any major highway at rush hour and pay attention.

In the past week, I have seen women putting on makeup while driving, men and women reading the newspaper (which is OK if you are reading my column, but not that other stuff), folks reading novels and sheaves of papers from manila folders and one young woman typing on a laptop computer.

I ain't making this up y'all. I saw a woman driving down the Atlanta Highway in Athens at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, typing on a computer.

It's a wonder anybody gets where they are going without having a wreck. And we haven't even talked about eating in the car, yet.

I remember when cars came without cup-holders, for crying out loud! I bet you won't find such a vehicle today. And it's not just cup-holders, either. I have seen cars with little sandwich trays that fold right down out of the dashboard. I bet Henry Ford would turn over in his grave if he knew what all we were doing in our automobiles.

Shoot fire! I saw a young bride and groom all but consecrate their wedding vows in Albuquerque, N.M., one day, while leaving the church in a Ford Galaxy. They didn't have a driver, either, and I have a whole busload of Boy Scouts who can bear witness.

So good for the General Assembly. I vote that we make it illegal for people of all ages to do anything behind the wheel of a car except drive.

Except on the last day of the month, of course. I don't want my lovely wife Lisa to get behind on her credit card bills. We might have to pay a penalty!

Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.