Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Encounter With Madame Texter

First, it seems absurd that we even need a law to prohibit sending or receiving a text message while driving. It’s inherently dangerous, distracting, and most of all, completely unnecessary.

But if we didn’t have issues like this to deal with, the dweebs up there under the big top would be doing something more troublesome, like spending money the state doesn’t have or making sure marriage is even safer. Heterosexual marriage, that is.

I’ve had several near-misses with texting drivers in the past couple years, and mainly they’ve been young people who drift out of their lane in the beltline as they thumb the tiny keyboard of their cell-phone at 60 MPH.

But I had a VERY near-miss with a texting driver yesterday morning just after ten o’clock, and I’m outing her right here and now.

I was running some errands on the southwest side of town and was headed east on PD at Verona Road, one of the busier intersections on that side of town. I was stopped, waiting for the light to change to cross Verona Road. I know it was just after 10 because my old pal Sly had just signed off, and I switched over to catch the news on WIBA-AM.

Ironically, John Colbert was delivering the story about the assembly overwhelmingly passing the ban on texting while driving, when in the lane to my left a slow-moving SUV, a Honda CRV, was gradually creeping forward. As it got closer to the vehicle ahead of it, I noticed two things: first, the driver was texting; second, it looked like she was going to roll into the car ahead of her.

She didn’t.

The light changed and three lanes of eastbound traffic moved forward. Madame texter, of course, was slow on the draw, because she was texting. She glanced up, began moving forward, and then - her eyes on her cell phone - began drifting to her right. In other words, drifting right toward my huge, expensive, gas-sucking, foreign-made SUV.

I couldn’t move too far to my right because there was solid traffic in that lane. I laid on the horn and began to wonder if I was going to have to take the ditch ahead, across the intersection, so madame texter wouldn’t hit me. She “came to” just in time and veered back into her lane.

I watched her go up the hill past Star Cinema, and noticed that again she was drifting off into the right lane. Still texting, no doubt.

By the way, this was not some youngster. I got a good look at her, and I’m guessin’ she was all of 50. And, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say if this bill ever becomes law, she’ll ignore it with the same disdain as someone 30 years her junior.

This woman was driving a maroon Honda CRV - not a brand new one, but not all that old - with Wisconsin plate 506-JZT. I pulled into the PDQ station and jotted down the plate so I could broadcast this warning to other motorists.

20 years ago, when I wheeled around in a Corvette which I would put away for the winter, I’d have been behind the wheel of my ultimate winter beater…a ‘76 Chevy Caprice. Three tons of gunmetal grey Detroit iron. I’d have put that woman right into the ditch and never looked back.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, a 2005 Honda according to the DMV site. You still need to call the cops to report a traffic infarction...I mean "infraction"! Though it almost gave YOU an infarction!

    You have to wonder just what proportion of traffic fatalities are due to inattentive driving.

    I know that there are plenty of situations where the brain can do two things at once. You, as a musician, will grant that playing your instrument still allows you to talk to someone making a request from the audience. I know from my own experience that I can be filling out a Sudoku puzzle while listening and responding to my daughter reading aloud a "Hank the Cow Dog" book.

    But there have been many times while driving -- on the highway in particular -- where I'll be thinking deeply about something or even just fiddling with the radio controls...and a lot of pavement will have passed under the wheels by the time I look up.

    I'd be interested to hear whether the name of that texterette ever surfaces.