August 26th, 2009 by Ravi Matah | Posted in Life   Comments Off on DRIVE SAFELY – CONCENTRATE
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We had to take our flight to Seattle on 19 Aug and that very evening we went to the market to pick up  medicine from the chemists shop in Vasant Kunj, Delhi  which I needed to carry to States for the duration of my stay there. After buying the medicine, we headed home. There were only two steps down to the road from that shop. When I was about to get down the first step, the cell phone in my sis-in-laws’ purse rang.  I was momentarily distracted and I missed the first step and my foot landed on the second. I was disbalanced, would have fallen down and taken the early morning flight minus my nose, but for the gentleman who was entering the shop and held me by the shoulder.

Is the ‘tring tring’ of the mobile phone so distracting? I think it is. A couple of months ago I was standing in the balcony where I saw that a young boy on a motor cycle driving downtown, and  talking to someone on his mobile phone while driving. The mobile slipped from his hand, in trying to hold it,  he fell down from his mobike and had to be hospitalised.

We are not pilots who have to watch the innumerale electronic computers and gadgets  in front, on the left, right and on top of the roof, as well as be in constant touch with the ATC tower down there, keep talking to the Air Traffic Controller to manouver  the 300 tons of steel hunk from one place to its destination. We are merely drivers who have to concentrate on the road, keep a check in front and occasionally look at the rear view mirror to ensure whether any missile (two wheeler) is coming from the left or the right trying to momentarily obstruct our path,  and have to steer clear to avoid the bang.

Use of mobile phones while driving,  have been banned in India and in other countries as well. In India, if the driver is caught talking on the telephone while driving,  he is handed the pink slip immediately and has to deposit the fine in the court within a week of the incident. It is considered a hazard and is responsible for most of the car accidents on the road.

 Now I find that even in Seattle, the driver is talking to someone while driving on the freeway – 60 mph or 100 kmph (approx.). Even while changing lanes from 30 to 60 mph the conversation is going on – ‘yes I am coming, will be there in 5 mins. – yes I have got chocolates for you’, love you – et el.!  This unnecessary conversation can be avoided. Why put your life and the 23,000 dollars plus car in jeopardy by a small mistake?

People have now resorted to the hands-free technology where you  press on button to get the call through and talk and listen through the head phones. But even this is considered deadly and could prove dangerous. Though hands free technology has mitigated the number of fatalities on the roads, but it has still been labled as hazardous. Driving is a matter of extreme caution, precaution and consentration. Any lapse in concentration on the part of the driver can lead to serious consequences.

The problem is,  when we manually dial a cell phone or are talking to someone while driving, we are not able to concentrate on the road cent-per-cent. The distraction causes problems. So what should be done? Here are a few suggestions.

Members of your family know that you will be driving, supposedly between 0845 to 0900 hrs and also between 1700 to 1730 hrs and they should not call you on your mobile during this period.  Similarly you can advise you friends also. Even despite this if a call comes through, just pull over to the left or the right side as the case may be, or as the driving rules permit,  and talk while your car is stationery and keep the call brief. Never dial fom your cell phone if your car is moving. Block unwanted calls if you have the facility in your phone.

I  feel that talking on cell phone while driving is as bad as drunken driving.

Always be careful and keep in mind that your loved ones are waiting for you at home and are dependent on you.

 Ravi Matah

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