I want to warn Pendleton residents of a terrible plague that has invaded our community. Across our country it kills and injures thousands more than the horrible Ebola virus. Americans panic at the mention of Ebola, but pay little attention to this much more dangerous problem. What is it? Talking or texting while driving.
This deadly habit has become so accepted and so universal that police departments are overwhelmed with the staggering number of people who think this activity is okay and ignore the law. Sometimes I think they just throw up their hands and give up on citing these lawbreakers. On my evening walks through downtown Pendleton I see an average of three drivers talking on phones.
Recently I tried to be nice to a young lady by the Dairy Queen who was headed west and waiting for a long string of traffic. I held off going through the intersection to give her time to turn in front of me. She was looking at me, but she was also talking on her cellphone. She just sat there talking on her phone. It was obvious her small brain couldn’t process both tasks at once. I waited a few seconds then, with lots of cars waiting behind me, I went on through. Only then did her brain finally recognize the opportunity, and she rushed across in front of me missing me by inches. I yelled for her to get off her phone and drive, but was only met by a string of obscenities. The phone was still glued to her ear.
The minimum fine for breaking this law in Oregon is $142. Police departments who are worried about budgets could get filthy rich if all the illegal callers were stopped and fined. I should state that I think the Pendleton Police Department and city council are dedicated and hard working folks. Both entities have many issues and challenges to deal with. I am convinced, however, that only much larger fines and a commitment to a zero tolerance policy will change the usage of cell phones in the car.
And what about the latest wonderful hi-tech gadget by Apple? The new wrist watch computer/cell phone will increase wrecks and deaths even more. Can you just picture someone twisting their wrist around to look at their “watch” then manipulating the buttons with the other hand while they negotiate through traffic? The worst is yet to come.