Driving a car much like handling a loaded gun

It seems all anyone wants to talk about these days is guns. Turn on the TV, the radio, pick up a magazine or a newspaper. It’s all guns. Gun control, gun violence, gun crimes. Everywhere you turn it’s all guns, guns, guns.

I might as well jump aboard in this column. I have some questions for gun owners. When handling a loaded weapon do you ever send text messages on your phone? When handling a loaded weapon do you ever make phone calls? When handling a loaded weapon do you ever try to eat a cheeseburger? When handling a loaded weapon do you ever mess around with your radio trying to find your favorite song? Would you try putting on mascara while handling a loaded weapon?

Most gun owners that I know would emphatically answer “no” to all of these questions. Yet when driving an automobile, a majority of the population does these things every day.

It’s often said that driving a car is like handling a loaded weapon. It makes sense. A car, many times, can do as much, if not more damage than a gun. Cars and trucks on the roads can be like two-ton guided missiles barrelling down the road.

If we wouldn’t text, talk or eat while handling a loaded weapon, why do we do so when we are behind the wheel?

Distracted driving is quickly becoming an epidemic, with cell phones and text messaging leading the way. The more people get advanced “smart” phones, with more cool applications, the more people are going to be tempted to use them while driving, even when it’s against the law. It often seems, the smarter the phone, then dumber the driver gets when behind the wheel.

Law enforcement agencies, the federal government and auto manufacturers are all scrambling to find a solution to stem the tide of distracted driving. It now also appears, that cell phone companies are trying to lend a hand.

AT&T recently announced a new function pre-installed on some of their smart phones called “DriveMode.”

When the owner of the smart phone turns on the DriveMode function it disables the text messaging functions of the phone when the phone is traveling faster than 25 miles per hour. If you receive a text message or phone call when driving faster than 25 MPH, the phone sends back an automatic response to the person who sent the text, much like an “out of office” message that can be set up on emails. Calls are sent directly to voicemail.

DriveMode also allows the user to set up a list of people whose text message will always be allowed to come through, and it can be turned off completely while driving, in case of an emergency.

I like this first step by the cell phone industry to increase user safety. The question is, will smart phone addicts take advantage of this new technology, or will it fall on deaf ears? I’m guessing not many people will use the new app, preferring instead to continue sending text messages while handling a loaded weapon.