11 text messages and then SCREECH, BAM, CRUNCH ... silence! 38 hurt, 2 dead, including the texter. That's his silver used-to-be-a-pickup truck under the bus (photo: Roberson/AP).

Dumb people using smart phones – it’s killing them. But only about 5500 each year, so who cares?

When your number is up, it’s up. And it may be your next call.

The U.S. Department of Transportation says nearly 5500 people died in crashes in 2009 involving a distracted driver (most on the phone) and the National Safety Council estimates that each year 100,000 car crashes have been tied to texting and driving while an additional 1.2 million annual accidents involve cell phone use. Just repeat that number to yourself, “… 1.2 million accidents.” The odds are good that one of those accidents could have your number on it. Talk about the wrong number.

Three quarters of all drivers are idiots, as defined by their addiction to technological crutches called smartphones. (photo: jweaver/Flickr)

Data released by the department shows that more than ¾ of drivers will answer a call while driving and they do not think about traffic conditions when answering. Also, these same idiots say they would send a text while driving. And yet – get this – 1/3 of the same idiots said they feel unsafe as a passenger if the driver is on the phone. Do you fecken’ believe it (DYFBI)? Is this the height of ignorance or what?  And when it comes to kids, the risks escalate exponentially. The next time your kid asks for the keys to the car, hand them over only in exchange for you keeping his or her cellphone. Because this is a whole new definition of DUI.

One of those idiot kids, a 19-year-old driving a pickup truck caused a deadly accident in Missouri last year (see photo above) while sending and receiving 11 texts in the 11 minutes immediately before the accident. Investigators said the young driver sent six texts and received five just before his pickup crashed into the back of a big truck. It started a chain reaction. The pickup was rear-ended by a school bus, which was rammed by a second school bus. The pickup driver and a 15-year-old student on one of the school buses were killed and 38 others were injured. Then there was the idiot engineer driving a commuter train in California that killed 25 because he was texting. And the tugboat pilot in Philadelphia who was talking on his cellphone and using a laptop. Wouldn’t be surprised if the chicken-ass, coward captain of the Costa Concordia was texting before running aground off the coast of Italy. And how about that Northwest Airlines flight that flew a 100 miles past its destination because both pilots were on their laptops. And it’s not just the idiots on the phone, it’s also the idiot lawmakers who are not making the laws to deter these killing machines. Like the National Rifle Association, the National Cellphone Association probably says, it’s not the phone (gun), it’s the person using it that kills people. Either way, somebody is dead.

I'm just a friendly convenience keeping you connected, please don't pass laws to limit my fun (photo: cutcaster.com)

Where the hell are the lawmakers when we need them?

A man in Michigan caused a fatal crash while texting and driving and was sentenced to just one month in jail and 12 months of probation. DYFBI? It was the first case of its kind since Michigan passed a ban on “texting while driving” back in August 2010 (obviously, lawmakers are in no rush – probably too busy on their cell phones). The man’s phone records showed that he was texting seconds before the impact that killed another person. In addition to jail time and probation, he has to pay more than $5,000 in fines and restitution. Aaaah the cheap price of an innocent life. The County Prosecutor said the sentence handed down was fair under current law. “It was a fair sentence under the law that we have at this time, the moving violation causing death, which texting and driving falls underneath, is a one year maximum,” He added, although he’d like to see texting-while-driving penalties toughened up. No shit Red Ryder. How about manslaughter? Penalties for drunk drivers who cause a fatality are much harsher (and still not harsh enough) – some states include a four-year minimum prison sentence and a permanent driver’s license suspension. That’s it? DYFBI – they killed somebody? That same prosecutor said that statistics he has seen shows that texting and driving is three or four times more dangerous than operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs when operating a motor vehicle. But it’s not as much fun. In Michigan they are trying to get stronger laws: Causing a serious injury would be a five-year felony and causing death would be a 15-year felony. Now that’s more like it.

According to a survey of more than 6,000 drivers by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 20% of drivers – and 50% between 21 and 24 – say they’ve thumbed messages or emailed from the driver’s seat. Of those between 14 and 17-year-olds only 35% thought they would die one day if they regularly text while driving and yet, 55% of teens think that drinking and driving could prove deadly. Who is responsible for teaching these kids that a smart phone needs to come with some smarts? There’s approximately 200 million licensed drivers in the United States and about 10 million under 19 – and half of those, 5 million, are texting while sharing the road with you in two tons of speeding metal. What are the odds that your number is on their speed dial?

The wonders of technology: It giveth on the one hand (medical breakthroughs) and taketh away on the other (text, talk, drive, dead). (photo:coffinwoodss.com)

Ignorance is rampant

Most U.S. motorists recently surveyed acknowledged few situations in which they would not use a cell phone or text while behind the wheel. For all the publicity about anti-texting laws and deaths attributed to distracted driving, the public remains ambivalent (stupid) about limitations on in-car cell-phone and smart-phone use. And they are not big on harsh punishment when such behavior is tied to vehicular accidents. Probably because they think they are more likely to be the cause of the accident versus the victim. Of course, they could be dead wrong.

Professor David Meyer, who runs the University of Michigan’s Brain, Cognition, and Action Laboratory and is a leading scholar of multitasking, says human beings are just not good at multitasking. That’s women too. It’s a little different than watching TV while feeding the kids (see BMW commercial below). Myers says, “We simply cannot do it safely.” He adds, “Even F-1 race car driver Michael Schumacher can’t deal with more than one task at a time.”

32,855 people were killed on U.S. roads in 2010 and if 5500 (17%) of these were related to the use of smart phones while driving, then … well, it simply confirms that regardless of how smart our technology gets, we remain as dumb as ever.

BMW – more than a smart car, smart advertising. It says it all in 30 seconds.