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Teen 'Shut Up and Drive' law doesn't go far enough

I totally expect to be run off the road by an irate cell phone user, but may I just say, HALLELUJAH!

The new law that went into effect on Jan. 2 prohibiting teen drivers from using their cells while driving will undoubtedly save lives. Young ones, old ones — and even those of us living in the middle-distance between birth and death.

In fact, my only quibble with this new driving-while-yapping restriction is that it's unfair to single out teens. The "Shut Up and Drive" law needs to be ageless. And the sooner the better.

Sure, teens pose special dangers because of their inexperience — in life and behind the wheel. First of all, most haven't crashed — yet. And, secondly, teens tend to believe they are immortal.

But if good judgment eludes, at least the synapses in their young brains fire quickly. Even while learning the ups and downs of operating a ton of metal at high rates of speed, their reaction times are better than the majority of us who still have the privilege to blather on while barrelling down life's literal highways.

I've been driving for 30-plus years, and I still find keeping my car between the lines enough of a challenge without the added distraction of ring tones, text messages or simple phone calls. A complete slacker when it comes to embracing the techno-revolution, I freely admit I'm more challenged than your average pre-geezer when it comes to operating electronic devices. You might even say I'm resistant to the infernal intrusion — I mean constant connectivity — these devices offer.

So why should I foist my prejudices upon others? Because it's not only teens and drunks who have a deluded sense of their abilities. We all do.

Studies have shown that reaction times of all drivers while using a cell is akin to those who drink and drive. And what about the terminally stupid among us who drink, dial and drive? Talk about a triple threat.

I've narrowly avoided crashes numerous times as someone with a cell glued to his ear ran a red light or passed across into my lane — as my life passed before my eyes.

I've ridden with others who embrace their cell phones and its BlackBerry and Bluetooth offshoots. A passenger sitting in mute terror as her driver's too-busy hands dialed, texted, checked messages, etc., I was itching to grab the wheel.

Even knowing I'm creating a danger to myself and others, I've done most of the above myself. But don't worry. Just like you, I'm an experienced driver and I'm really careful when road dialing. Promise.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.