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Safety First

Safety first.

How often do you hear that? How often is it practiced?

A woman once harangued me at a cross walk. I crossed without the 'Walk' sign. It was between three and four PM in the late summer in California. The weather was clear, visibility of about six miles. No cars were anywhere in sight. I felt safe. I crossed. The woman, waiting for the cross walk on the other side, asked, "What sort of lesson are you teaching young children by crossing without the signal?" I snapped back, "Situational thinking," and kept walking. "Safety first," she called after me.

Up here in Oregon (or down here, if you north of us, or out here in Oregon, if you're 'back East'), a law has been passed prohibiting using a cell phone  while driving. The rational was that it distracts you and makes your driving unsafe. The law includes a list of who is authorized to use a cell phone while driving, and includes the exception, "while using a hands free device".  It also exempts you if it's part of your job:  "A person operating a motor vehicle in the scope of the person’s employment if operation of the motor vehicle is necessary for the person’s job;"

All this makes me wonder, though, why do we pretend that all these distractions of cell phones, the radio, and so on, don't exist? Why not teach people how do multi-task, how to drive and talk on the cell phone at the same time?  After all, how will this be enforced? Do police know that you're doing business when you're driving? No, they'll probably only stop you if you're driving in an unsafe manner or caused or were involved in an incident.

A final note bugging me:  why do we still refer to it as 'back east'? It makes it sound like a board game.