The Maryland Senate is soon voting on a bill that could ban the use of handheld phones and texting devices by drivers in our state. I am all for it. If you shrug off the significance of such a law or think it's too intrusive, I'll invite you over to see my x-rays or come to a session of physical therapy with me. I'm lucky, and I know it. But luck only goes so far.
Why anyone needs to text behind the wheel of a car is beyond me. It's insane. And with Bluetooth technology everywhere (or wired headsets a dime a dozen), there is NO excuse for driving with one hand up to your ear, clutching your Razr.
I guarantee - get hit in an accident like I did, and you'll get passionate, too.
The status of Senate Bill 2 is pretty shaky right now, and that's a real shame. I've never sent mail to one of my elected representatives before, but today, I've sent my state senator an e-mail:
Dear Senator Frosh:
My name is Merujo, and I live in Bethesda. Last autumn, while I was waiting in my car at a red light, I was struck from behind by a distracted driver using her handheld cell phone. I was in a small Ford Escort, and she was driving a large Toyota SUV. And, because she was driving distracted, chatting on her phone, she plowed her vehicle into mine, full speed. She could not even pull into a vacant lane to avoid me because she didn't have both hands on the wheel to turn out of my way.
I was shot into the intersection. My car was totaled, and I ended up with spinal fractures throughout my back. In fact, one doctor told me it was a miracle I was not paralyzed.
It's been six months since the accident. I still have to use a cane to walk, I have a pronounced limp, and there are days when I can barely function because of the pain. All because someone selfishly and foolishly had her phone up to ear, looking out her side window, chatting away. She's fine, by the way. She got a dent in her bumper and a flat tire. I'm still in physical therapy. And that not only depresses me, it makes me incredibly angry.
I travel the 270 corridor frequently, and I am astounded to see what I assume are successful, well-educated people doing amazingly dangerous things like driving with their forearms on their steering wheels, so they can text with both hands. It's clear - and terrifying - that they have no care for the people around them as they weave erratically through high-speed traffic. We have seen horrible accidents happen throughout the United States because people were driving distracted, with hands too occupied in text or conversation. I keep waiting for one to happen here in Montgomery County. I sincerely hope we don't have to have a tragedy happen here before people really pay attention.
Even hands-free laws won't keep people from being completely distracted or selfish, but it will help keep their hands on the wheel. Hopefully, the possibility of fines may make some people pay attention. It's not enough, honestly, but it's a start.
I'm lucky. I'm alive and I can walk. But, frankly, I don't want to have to press my luck again.
Senator, I sincerely hope you are supporting Senate Bill 2, and that Maryland roads will soon be a hands-free zone.