Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Watson, come here -- look out for that car! -- I need you.

Some of today's teens are "texting" on their cell phones while driving.

This obviously is distracting. But the real question is, physically, how do they do it? Using the microscopic keyboards is difficult for palsied middle aged parents with paws, who are sitting at sitting at a desk, concentrating.

Are the drivers doing the texting with one hand, and steering with the other? Are they holding the electronics in both hands on top of the wheel? Can they touch-type, or touch-thumb, or however they manipulate the keys?

Changing the music on an iPod running through the car's radio is simpler, but still requires averting eyes from the road for about a minute or two, or roughly a mile or two at Interstate speeds. It's terrifying, but if you've been listening to Public Enemy for two hours and want to counterbalance your brain by switching to Schubert (or Schumann) for a while, you have no choice.

That is, unless you pull into a rest area, but who has time for that? And really, if you can keep the vehicle in your lane, what can happen in a mile and a half? Those of you who have experienced automobile collisions know that it's not the mile, the problem is the last 50 or 100 feet. Anyway.

A loony teenager, who was seriously injured texting and driving, was on television recently. She had been writing to a friend when she collided with a truck. After she recovered from a broken leg, broken pelvis, and a few other injuries, she went right back to text-driving, and had another crash. And she's still doing it!

The amount of multi-tasking, coordination, and fearlessness, is fascinating.

Never mind the irony of using a telephone to correspond when you could just talk. That was originally what was so liberating about telephones: Instead of laboriously writing, addressing, and posting letters, , you could just dial a few numbers and talk.

We need people like these driving texters to fly drones over Pakistan and Afghanistan. They might even be able to pilot a drone, fires missiles at the Taliban and drive, simultaneously.

If you're going to risk your life like that, and you can drive, read, write and think about something else, all at the same time, why not "give something back" to your country?