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Time to shut up and drive

By Tom Fetters

Ray La Hood is taking aim, and many of us are in the cross hairs.

In announcing the creation yesterday of FocusDriven, an organization that will try to get motorists’ hands on the wheel and minds on the road, the U.S. transportation secretary said, “I’m on a rampage about distracted driving.”

I confess: I sometimes drive while distracted. For years, I lived about 1½ hours from the office and used my commute to make and take calls, check and leave messages and eat an occasional burger and fries. And now, even though I live much closer to my workplace, I still sometimes use my phone and fuss with food and drinks.

But as the sobering stories mount — FocusDriven’s leader, Jennifer Smith, lost her mother in 2008 to a driver who was talking on his cell phone and dialing my cell phone while driving nearly triples my chances of getting into a crash, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute — I’m starting to rethink my habits.

Eventually, I am sure, restrictions will be placed on use of cell phones and other hand-held devices. The Daily Reporter’s Paul Snyder pointed out in an article last month that many Wisconsin lawmakers have introduced bills to that effect. But even before a new law takes my eyes off my phone display and focuses them back on the road, I’m thinking it’s time to get a hands-free device.

It won’t take me out of the cross hairs, but at least it’s a start.

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