Friday, November 11, 2011

A Day for Veterans

Well today is the US national holiday reserved for honoring those men and women who have served in our armed forces. Although I have little respect for the policies and decision making that have led America into so many (unsuccessful) foreign conflicts, I do have tremendous respect for those individuals who end up on the front lines. I admire soldiers. I admire especially those soldiers who have been misled, those who have been cajoled into service by the promise of education or financial stability; I know their families have a huge challenge in recreating some type of normal home life. Most importantly, I am humbled by the amount of lives that have been lost from all these wars. Political and religious leaders are not the ones whose sons and daughters are doing all the dying.

Speaking of unnecessary loss of life, the state of Pennsylvania this week joined about 35 other states in passing legislation that bans texting while driving, only hours before a local teenage driver was killed while sending a text. Every single day that I ride my bicycle on the street I see people using their "smart phone" computers while driving. Some of them are at stop signs or red lights, but many are actively driving while using their devices. In fact, I would say that hostile drivers can pretty much be categorized into two groups: a small number of people who are deliberately rude and angry about cyclists on the roads; and a much larger percentage who drive too close, turn without signaling, and pass in dangerous situations all because they are distracted. This second group is largely unaware that they are endangering me while I ride. They don't even realize how close they just came to killing me at that last intersection.

To that first group of obstinate angry drivers, I don't have much to say; I've grown immune to insults, shouts, and middle fingers. But to that much larger second group, I believe we need some public safety messages that accompany the texting bans.

How about this?

It's OK
if you need to send a text.
Just pull over first.

Seriously man, just find a driveway, or a parking lot, or an alley, or a safe road shoulder and pull over for a few minutes.  That extra five minutes could save a life.

Sorry for all the shouting everyone, I promise to head back to stories of falling down in the mud as soon as possible. Catch you next week.

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