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Madeleine Begun Kane,
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Madeleine Begun Kane

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Perhaps I'm out of line, but I think that when you get behind the wheel of a gazillion pound motorized vehicle, turn the ignition key, get into gear, hit the gas, and begin to move, you should maybe ... I don't know ... PAY ATTENTION.

This approach has many advantages. For example, if you carefully observe your fellow drivers, you can:

a: Pick up lipstick application tips from the woman going 65;

b: Place bets on how far into your lane the guy next to you will swerve while switching CD's or poking his iPod;

c: Ascertain whether the stuff that fellow is trying to dab off his horn, tie, and suit is ketchup or mayo and learn high-speed stain removal techniques;

d. Cancel your newspaper subscription and read it on the Kindle propped up on some news hound's steering wheel; and

e: Eavesdrop on fascinating conversations. ("I'm calling from my car. Cool, huh?") Bonus Benefit: You'll know whose cell phone to borrow when its owner crashes into you.

Please somebody tell me: What are these people thinking?

I know that we all lead pressured lives. And that people are so busy, they're forced to eat, apply make-up, shave, read, return phone calls, and relieve themselves on the run. Being a compulsive multi-tasker myself, I'm very sympathetic ... to a point. For instance, I'm not suggesting that breathalyzers be enhanced to test for freshly applied eye shadow and just ingested Big Macs. Hmmm, not a bad idea, come to think of it.

But if you're so pressed for time that extra-car-icular activities are a must, couldn't you please, as a personal favor, do them at red lights or while stalled in traffic jams? And don't tell me you don't have red lights and traffic jams in your neighborhood. Actually do tell me and give me your address ... so I can move there.

The scary part is that things are going to get even worse as Internet gadgets get tinier and Net-enabled cars become common. Now I have nothing against the Internet. I earn my living ... such as it is ... on the Net. I even suffer from Web withdrawal when I'm away from it for substantial periods like ... um ... 17 seconds.

So I can think of nothing better to occupy my car-bound time than surfing the Net ... assuming I'm not the one at the wheel.

But I don't want to share the road with a fellow who's hard drive just crashed or who just accidentally mass-emailed a painfully personal note. I also don't want the driver in the next lane to be busy blogging, Twittering, or voting for the next American Idol.

Nor do I want to be near any driver who's downloading porn, cursing out Windows, or instructing his car computer to tell his home computer to tell his thermostat, fridge, and oven what to do.

Not that I'm against all car gadgetry. In fact, I'm eagerly awaiting the invention of the DDDD -- "Distracted Driver Detection Device." What will a DDDD do? Warn me when I'm near anybody who'd use a gizmo like that, so I can get the heck out of his way.


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