The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

November 20, 2013

Keep calm and drive


— It’s not just for teenagers anymore.

Distracted driving, that is.

A recent survey by State Farm Insurance notes that more and more older drivers are catching up to their younger counterparts with a sharp increase in smartphone ownership by drivers 30 and older.

State Farm spokesman Dave Phillips told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that smartphones are a distraction that sees no age barrier.

Don’t people ever get old enough to know better than to do dangerous things?

Apparently not.

And it’s not just talking and texting anymore. The survey said that the number of people who use their phones to access the Internet WHILE THEY ARE DRIVING has increased from 13 to 24 percent since 2009.

WHAT?!?!

That 24 percent includes drivers all over the age spectrum.

When and why did we become so self-absorbed, so self-important, that no phone call, no question, no text can wait until the car is parked?

Why can’t we just stop?

Yes, yes. We know lives are hectic today and multitasking is ever-present.

Driving itself is a multitask. We steer, scan the road for other drivers doing dumb stuff, turn on turn signals, turn off the wipers, change the radio station, make sure the kids are behaving in the backseat, checking the gas gauge ... . Get the picture?

The highway is the last place we should take on more distracting tasks.

Texting while driving and talking on a cell without the use of a hands-free device are illegal in West Virginia.

It also is just common sense not to do these things — including accessing the Internet — when you are otherwise engaged.

Our motto: Put down the phone. Keep calm and drive.