Tim Chitwood

Tim Chitwood: Give idiot drivers on cell phones a break

So the other day I'm trying to drive home from work when a pickup truck in front of me stops at the stop sign by the railroad tracks.

For like 30 seconds.

And I don't lay on the horn, because sometimes other motorists are easily triggered, and they have guns.

And being naïve, apparently, I assume the other driver has a good reason not to move on. Like maybe a train is coming.

That's why I don't just whip around him. Anyone who impatiently whips around another auto at the railroad tracks and gets creamed by a train is one YouTube video shy of a Darwin Award.

And maybe the driver stopped for other reasons. Maybe an emergency vehicle's coming. Maybe an injured animal's in the road ahead. Maybe some dastardly villain tied woman in petticoats to the tracks, and the guy in the truck's here to rescue her, and he's donning his cape.

Finally I carefully creep up beside the truck, look both ways, check the tracks for damsels in distress, look over at the other driver, and see that he's just talking on his cell phone.

What's up with that? Why can't people just pull aside if their calls are so crucial?

This is a recurring question, as a week or so ago I was driving up Second Avenue, about to cross the same dang railroad tracks, but this time at a traffic light, when the light turned green and the car in front of me proceeded north.

That's when someone coming the other way, talking on a cell phone, turned east on Ninth Street right dead in front of the motorist ahead of me.

It was quite remarkable, even for an idiot on a cell phone. It was like the woman turning east waited for the other car to approach, just so she could turn in front it at precisely the right moment to cause a collision if the northbound driver didn't slam on the brakes.

Besides this common breed of cell phone daredevil, you have people who don't do anything wrong except get in front of you and go about 2 mph while they talk on their phones, as if they know for a fact they can't really drive and talk at the same time, so they have to be VERY careful, like so careful a line of cars forms behind them. Like if it's raining and everyone's headlights are on, it looks like a funeral without a hearse or police escort.

More common in my experience is having someone on a cell phone ahead of me wait until I try to pass, and then drift with no turn signal into my lane, like I'm invisible.

In fact this happens so often I've begun to wonder: Am I invisible? Is it possible that's my super power?

And if so, does that mean I don't have to empty my pockets to pass through scanners at security checkpoints?

And I can sneak into fitness centers and go straight to the women's locker room?

No, the authorities tell me: People today just act like you're invisible because they're rude. And clueless.

And there's nothing you can do about that, and no point in getting all stressed out. So give them a break, next time they're on a cell phone and create a traffic hazard. Try not to lose your temper, especially if you've got a gun.

That's why I don't carry one.

Tim Chitwood, tchitwood @ledger-enquirer.com, 706-571-8508.