Sam Asano's Let's Invent: Readers eager to share their opinions on texting while driving
I don't know what time newspapers typically get delivered in the morning. They are always there by the time I go outside to pick them up. On Monday morning, Aug. 19 right around 6 a.m., the chime on my computer rang times to indicate arriving emails.
By 6:15, I had five emails from readers on the subject of "texting while driving," and the havoc it causes to road safety. These readers must have read the paper around 5 a.m. and got on the computer to send me their opinions immediately.
Suddenly the airwave and print media is dotted with articles and shows about the problem of texting while driving (TWD). One could benefit greatly by viewing the Werner Herzog's documentary "From One Second to the Next" (Here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xk1vCqfYpos).
Also, the Diane Rehm Show broadcast an hour-long discussion on TWD on Tuesday, Aug. 20, through NHPR. The program included several prominent panelists on the subject.
It seems, however, that none of these public discussion programs offer a decisive solution to this most serious problem. It appears that there is no silver bullet. So will TWD go on killing people as business as usual? The cost to public safety is very high. On country roads where two opposing lanes are separated by just two faded yellow lines oftentimes you risk your life.
The issue definitely ignited the concern of readers as evidenced by the comments below:
• John Smith (Hampton): I was recently forced over to the right as far as I could go, almost up against a tree, by a younger driver looking down and not looking up until he almost hit me, actually clipped mirrors. I think that any accident caused by texting while driving should result in loss of driving privileges; 1st — 30 days, 2nd — 60 days, then habitual offender status. We can't take away phones, parents are giving them to children at a young age but the only way to fight the 'personal fable' is to enact and enforce much tougher laws than a possible $25 fine. I can't think of any message that is important enough to put someone else's property and more importantly their health at risk because you just had to answer back to "What's up?"
• Mike Peraresi (Stratham): I love this topic. While I think preventing texting while driving is absolutely necessary, I find it a most difficult challenge to come up with a technology that will become mainstream. I like the text to voice solution since most texts are short, quick little snippets of information. The text question is a tougher one i.e. "When will you be arriving?" etc. Seems like this technology is firmly in the hands of the Bluetooth folks to provide a simple way to voice reply — something like "TEXT REPLY . . . 5:30 p.m." or "I'm driving now ttyl." I would buy that capability.
• Galemarie (Manchester): I just read your article about texting while driving and I could not agree with you more. It is absolutely infuriating that people are focusing on texting and not paying attention to their driving. 5,000 deaths annually due to this negligent habit is unacceptable and laws must change immediately. A vehicle can easily become a weapon and people who cause accidents while texting/talking on the cell phone should be held accountable with a large fine and/loss of license and/or jail time. The state of Maine prohibits any communication via cell phone while driving unless a blue tooth is utilized.
A middle-aged woman was texting while driving on the wrong side of the lane heading directly at me out of the Walmart parking lot last week. I blew the horn and yelled "hang up and drive" and she glared at me like I was the one at fault. Unbelievable. Where have people's minds gone?
I would like to start the ball rolling on this subject. Whom should I write to? The Aldermen, the Mayor, Dep.t of Safety? Any feedback you can provide me with would be most appreciated Sam.
There are many more reader comments. They are all identical in the evident desire of readers to stop this dangerous practice. Several apps are available to prevent keyboard operations when driving above a certain speed but these apps can also be disabled. Also, I have a strong suspicion that TWD is a form of addiction like alcoholism or drug use. As addictions, these vices are difficult to control let alone eliminate. It seems that a stiff penalty may be the most effective measure.
Shintaro (Sam) Asano of New Castle, who speaks and writes English as a second language, was named by MIT in 2011 as one of the 10 most influential inventors of the 20th century who improved our life. He is a businessman and an inventor in the field of electronics and mechanical systems, who is credited as the original inventor of today's portable fax machine. He also developed a data tablet used in the retail point of sale to capture customer signatures when credit cards are used. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.