09 July 2013
Last week I enjoyed a brief visit from one of my two best friends in high school. Bill was driving a looping route from Chicago to our hometown, thence here in Missoula, east to Bozeman for a family reunion, and on back to Chicago. A ham radio operator since his early teens, he loves long drives because it gives him the chance to connect with scores of other operators as he travels ~ each contact is recorded in a logbook (he's accumulated more than fifty logbooks over the years).
Given that his communication is by using a hand key and Morse code, not by voice, such a feat is even more impressive. He has a formidable antenna mounted on top of his vehicle for enhanced reception. My thought was 'wait, what about safety?' So I asked him, and he assured me that he pulls to the side of the road before engaging on the radio. Smart.
Which is more than can be said for the countless drivers who text and talk on cell phones while driving. Such behavior degrades one's attention to safe driving even more than being drunk does. I posted recently about the temptation of buying a cell phone jammer. It makes me angry to see otherwise (hopefully) sane people put themselves and others at risk. Each year a greater portion of all auto accidents is caused by drivers whose attention to the road is degraded by texting or talking.
So you can imagine my delight when I learned that more states are cracking down on drivers who text or call while behind the wheel. In an unmarked vehicle, it's quite easy for an officer to ease alongside an offending driver, confirm their illicit activity visually, and pull them over to receive a traffic citation.
Here is the CBS Evening News segment. Please watch it. More important than saving yourself from a traffic ticket, it could save your life.