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All the rage: Survey takes look at cell phones, driving habits

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DIANA BUCKLEY
Ellis County Press

WAXAHACHIE — A recent survey released by Progressive Auto Insurance claims '69.4 percent of Texans say they eat behind the wheel.'

I don't know about you, but I'm guessing the other 30.6 percent either don't have a car or don't eat behind the wheel because they spend their time punching tiny, pointy-ended plastic straws into drink pouches for people in the back seat who are screaming: 'I'm thirsty!'

The press release went on to say '45.6 percent of respondents in Texas report expressing their anger at other drivers (by shouting or swearing, using hand gestures, cutting off other drivers or speeding) and more than 56.7 percent of those talk on their cell phones.'

Talk on their cell phones? What exactly does talking on the cell phone have to do with expressing anger at other drivers? Are they calling the other drivers?

'Hello, this is Diana in the white SUV - yeah, I'm about three cars back… Did you not SEE that you cut me off back there?'

Curiously absent from the survey is a corresponding percentage of respondents who say they do NOT express anger but DO talk on their cell phones. Chances are, the number is greater. But it would be hard to vilify driving cell phone talkers without the anger factor.

Public opinion would not be properly swayed against cell phone use if the report were to say, for instance, '62 percent of busy moms use their cell phones while driving from soccer practice to boy scouts' or 'fathers anxious to arrive at the ballet recital on time conduct business on their cell phones on the way home from work.'

During the survey, Progressive also asked respondents to classify their cars as 'classy,' 'sexy,' 'smart,' 'sporty,' 'reliable' or 'aggressive.' It had never occurred to me to apply ANY of these adjectives to my vehicle.

I might have said 'cluttered' or 'sticky.' I might have said 'under warranty' or 'expensive.' I might have said 'white' or 'needs to be washed.' 

I might also have answered the survey from my cell phone while driving, no doubt pausing at least once to admire a picture drawn by a small boy in the back seat, or to switch audio tapes or turn up the radio, or even fish around behind me for a toy that fell onto the floor board.

Yes, people 18 to 24 are most likely to talk on their cell phones, people over 55 are least likely to express anger at other drivers, moms are most likely to do three other things while driving, and people who classify their cars as 'sexy' may very well be most likely to apply makeup while driving.

And, yes, all these things are likely to cause accidents on today's congested highways and byways. But legislation is not the answer - and yes, some government entities are considering legislation prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving. What will be next? Drive-through restaurants, illegal? Noisy children in the car, illegal? Busy schedules, illegal? 

Think about it.

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