(Foster's Daily Democrat (Dover, NH) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 10--Some weeks ago I could see the future was not going to be pretty for drivers who multi-task, and I resolved to take steps to save myself from the police in Maine and New Hampshire. It does not look good -- the solution or the future.
I am talking about the ability to drive and talk to your family, conduct business, listen to music or do whatever you choose with your life and time. Freedom to drive as we please is under assault as accidents from so-called "distracted driving" are causing concern.
For those who don't know, New Hampshire has passed a new law targeting drivers who also use electronic devices such as cell phones with their hands while traveling.
The new law in the "Live free or die" state kicks in next July 1. Used to be only texting while driving was punishable by a fine. Now any use of a hand-held device will cost you $100 for the first offense, and $250 and $500 for second and third offenses. Teens can't even use hands-free devices.
In Maine, the governor has been on another rant, this time about this issue. He himself has not driven since taking office. Must be nice.
While being chauffeured around he said he observed all sorts of distracted behaviors by commoners, I mean commuters, and plans to push for a similar law against cell phone use while driving.
Meanwhile, Maine State Troopers have been hiding on turnpike overpasses and other places and pulling over people who are "distracted" while driving. This could include daydreaming or having only one hand on the wheel while scratching an itch, I fear. The fines have been hefty.
So all this put the fear of poverty in me and I made an appointment at a nearby cell phone store to get a hands-free device. I use my commuting time wisely and often take and make calls while driving. I probably will be hauled into court for admitting this, but freedom has its price, and I had up until now chosen to use my phone with my hands. The horror.
Anyway, I went in to get a device so I could still connect with the world and travel and it turned out the simple, older phone I had was not "Blue-Tooth enabled." This means it could not use the new wireless technology to talk without my hands and had to be upgraded.
Upgraded is a fancy term for forcing us to pay more for devices that do all sorts of things we don't need. Or at least I don't need. But I had to do it, so I opted for a modern phone and a wireless hands-free headset.
This all set me back about $100 and my signature on another two-year phone usage deal. The beauty of my situation, according to my phone consultant, was the phone company could offer me a wonderful package that would knock the price of the phone down to a ridiculously low sum and enable me to have even more minutes each month for one very good price.
After eight months on this plan I'd even have paid for the new phone and would be using it from then on for nothing. Isn't technology great? Not really, because no sooner did I begin to use my new hands-free device while driving than I discovered I was more distracted than before.
The reception was horrible and I was driving badly while trying to work both a new phone and a headset with cleverly recessed tiny buttons my old fat fingers couldn't find. In a nutshell, I am back to using my cell phone the old-fashioned way until I can see my phone consultant again next week to get another upgrade, this time for my hand-held device. At an amazingly good price, I presume.
Others embrace technology and love visiting their cell phone store frequently to see what's new and sign for upgrades. It's just that I hearken back to an earlier time, when we had to stop at telephone booths along the roadside to make a call.
Once I was an early adopter of technology. Heck, I had one of the few mobile phones when they first came out. They had to be mounted by a technician on the floor of my horse-drawn buggy.
Sadly, today I am just another old fogey trying to catch up and stay out of trouble with the law. What is not pretty, besides my failed attempt to become hands-free so far, is the effort to legislate our safety.
I know, car wrecks victimize innocent people and medical bills to repair the damage cost us all. Yes, bad drivers should be held accountable. But where does it end?
Truth be known, I wear my seat belt but don't like being told I have to. Now I can't use my phone the way it was intended while I drive. Soon I will be detained for not wearing sunglasses or eating too many fattening french fries.
It's just becoming too much like Big Brother out here. I suppose we have to do this because it is just too hard to expect people to take personal responsibility for their actions. Maybe it is the cost of failed families and loose morals
But I digress. The only thing I want to know is if the new expenses I will incur trying to stay one call ahead of the law so society is safe, will be covered under the new national affordable health insurance package? Can someone consult with me on that?
Jeremiah Turner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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