Drive now, talk later is the slogan of a grassroots movement against the use of car phones while driving.

They have a web site at http://cartalk.cars.com/About/Drive-Now/.

On this web site they offer a free bumper sticker, as well as their opinion about the issue at hand.

They offer both scientific and non-scientific evidence that talking on a car phone while driving means you are not paying attention to the road.

They also explain how to get involved in pushing for legislation.

By the way, the web site, the bumper sticker, and the movement, are sponsored by Car Talk on NPR (that is, National Public Radio, a non-profit radio network in the US).

The problem isn't so much with talking on cell phones in general as it is with the distraction wrought by the peculiarities of the device itself.

Cell phones involve an awful lot of technology, but the part that's most important to this discussion is the keypad. Punching numbers into a keypad drains attention that needs to be spent concentrating on the road.

The second problem is that you have to hold a cell phone up to your ear. This is bad because if you suddenly need to apply two hands to the steering wheel, you have to drop the phone, which takes precious seconds. Hesitation can make it worse. If you are driving a stick, forget about it. The sensation of having the phone next to your head may also sap attention. (Intangible, I know, but I'm sure you know what I mean.) I know people who not only talk on cell phones while driving, but actually send e-mail from them. One of my friends sent me an e-mail about how he was listening to Cruel Summer and typing out a message on his RIM e-mail pager, all while driving down the freeway. I don't have anything against Bananarama, but that's just lunacy.

The solution is twofold.

Many newer cell phones sport voice recognition. You can program numbers into them and then say a word, which the cell phone will recognize in the future (for example, "Vinny"). This eliminates the need to punch in numbers or scroll through a list. So, the first solution is to get a phone with voice recognition.

The second solution is to use hands-free operation. Virtually every cell phone sold today either has an optional earpiece/microphone, or has speakerphone capability, such as the Motorola i1000s used by NexTel. I would recommend getting a cell phone with speakerphone capabilities, so that you don't have to wear a rather silly-looking accessory whenever you are in the car.

I work in a body shop. When I came back from an out of town trip, there was a van in our lot that looked like a big blue soda can that had been stepped on. All along the side, the sheet metal was buckled from the point of impact that seemed to have come from the rear. Glass was broken out at odd intervals. It was an older model family van, the kind you take the family in on a picnic, the kind you moor like a boat.

When I asked about how it ended up so damaged, I was told that an 18 year old girl was driving an Altima at about 85 MPH, talking on her cell phone. This van was parked on the shoulder and the owner had been struggling to change a tire. The whole family was luckily outside the vehicle when the girl struck the corner of the van, flipping it over three times while also flipping her own car once, landing it on its tires.

She died right there. The whole family had been spared. I was speechless.

Word of warning people: watch those fucking cell phones. They can kill.

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