Selfishness puts others at risk

>Let us have a loud and sustained round of applause for the Wilton police officer who, on May 17, issued a summons to a driver who was talking on a cellphone.

You might have seen this item in the police log in last week’s Cabinet, and we hope you see many more such items.

Oh, of course, we wish that police offi­cers didn’t have to deal with such things, but as long as drivers are self-centered, careless, uncaring and unconcerned about putting the lives of others in jeop­ardy, it will be up to the police to deal with them.

If we had one wish, though, it would be that the police would release the names of the drivers summoned for such gross idiocy so we could all have a chance to wonder what they’d look like with the scarlet letter "C" on their foreheads, the "C" standing for "careless," or "cell," perhaps.

Please explain to us why a driver so desperately needs to make or take a phone call that he or she can’t wait to find a safe place to park before making or taking that call. Do they have cellphones that shout, "TAKE THIS CALL. LIFE OR DEATH EMERGENCY"? That might be a reason to risk their lives, but that’s about it.

The question would be, of course, is it reason enough to risk yours?

We know that most drivers, especially ones who don’t think very clearly when it comes to safety, believe sincerely that nothing bad will ever happen to them. You know them: the road rage nuts who start screaming at other drivers without having the vaguest idea about the mental stability of the person at whom they’re screaming or what that person’s reaction might be.

Well, the same could be said about the cellphone driver who cannot possibly have the vaguest idea about what emer­gency might confront him or her that will require quick handling of the vehicle. But she or he is on the phone. Can one re­act as quickly when at least a good part of their concentration is on that instrument instead of the steering wheel? Would you want to take a chance on being that per­son’s passenger?

Here’s a word of advice:

Don’t.

Using a cellphone while driving is an act of selfishness, and we really do ap­plaud the Wilton officer for, first, spotting this idiocy and, second, doing something about it. Not every officer would.

But, clearly, some will.

So, here’s a hint for you, directly from Tom and Ray Magliozzi, National Pub­lic Radio’s "Car Talk" guys (and, yes, we know that Tom has died), which we will put in slightly nicer language:

"Shut up and drive."

That’s good advice for all of us.