A reader writes to Abby advocating driving while using a hands-free device to communicate while using a cell phone because she is the mother of a daughter who calls her every day during her work commute. The conversation usually lasts for about 10-15 minutes, and the routine is so rigid that the daughter calls her mother her "'commute buddy'". The mother enjoys the conversations because she appreciates the daughter finding time to talk with her every day, almost on a set routine, in between her busy weekday schedule. Since her daughter uses her cell phone hands-free, the mother is not concerned about the daughter being distracted while driving.
On the other hand, another reader writes a letter in response, stating that drivers who use their cell phones while driving "are four times more likely to crash and hurt themselves or someone else within five minutes of making a call". He also states that apparently people who text and drive are twenty-three times more likely to be involved in wrecks; more than 3,000 people are killed and between 300,000 and 500,000 people are injured annually by texting and driving. The reader further supports his statements of these statistics by revealing that his son was killed in a car wreck by a driver on a cell phone. Understandably, this reader advocates not using a cell phone at all while operating a vehicle.
Abby's response includes condolences to the reader whose son died at the hands of a distracted driver as well as her opinion that drivers who do not place their full attention on driving put other drivers on the road in danger. She also expresses that unless consequences for driving while engaging in distracted behavior, particularly cell phone use, are drastic and more severe, people will continue to use their cell phones while driving.
At the bottom of the news section, Abby, or Abigail Van Buren, who is also known as Jeanne Phillips, welcomes anyone to write to her.
About two weeks ago, we discussed a news article regarding smartphone technology becoming mainstream inside vehicles on the center screen that now projects the car's navigation and media/audio systems. In this news article, a two-second glance away from the road is quoted as the maximum amount of time that should be dedicated to focusing a driver's attention on anything other than the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) posts guidelines on distractions for drivers that Google and Apple must keep in mind while developing these high-tech programs.
To practice the safest driving behavior, it is always best to avoid any and all distractions inside our vehicles so that we do not put others in danger of being involved in a car wreck. Even food can be considered a distraction-see this news article that we covered regarding a driver who was ticketed for eating a burger while driving.
Two seconds may seem like a very short amount of time, but it is still enough time for a vehicle to brake suddenly in front of another vehicle, which can rear-end crash into the first.
The Dear Abby section of the newspaper was initially founded by Jeanne's mother, Pauline Phillips.