To the editor:
It's what we call a near miss. A car next to me on 23rd Street swerved sharply to the right, into my lane. I braked and honked, and the driver swerved back just in time. He waved, quite apologetically. Either he hadn't known I was there, or he hadn't known he had swerved.
No wonder! His stereo was turned up so loud that, half a block later when we stopped side-by-side at a light, my car was shaking. In the middle of all that sound, he had been carrying on a lively cell phone conversation, gesturing with his free hand (the one not holding the phone) and bouncing around his seat in time to the music.
I can't entirely blame his lousy driving on the cell phone. Only about half or two-thirds. But that half or two-thirds was enough to make this guy lethal behind the wheel.
When we talk about behind-the-wheel cell use, don't think of a quick, "Honey, I'm ten minutes out, and do you still need a half-gallon of skim?" Think instead of someone whose attention is Elsewhere, whose intense conversation overpowers the chore of driving.
Most traffic accidents happen within five miles of home - a typical trip for a Lawrence driver. Let's get rid of cell phone use while driving in Lawrence. Driving needs one's full attention.