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TUESDAY, MARCH 8, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Motorists must keep eyes on the highway

Pointing out the shortcoming of the dead isn't something people do, in the long-held belief that doing so is disrespectful.

Lucas D. Rolin, 26, a Tennessee motorist, made two mistakes Saturday, both of which many have contributed to his death. The reason for mentioning them now is that too many other motorists make the same mistakes. Some of them die, too.

Mr. Rolin, state troopers said, was driving along Interstate 65 on Saturday while attempting to send a text message on his cell phone. Not only was he distracted, troopers said, he had not buckled up.

He lost control of his truck, which turned over five or six times, ejecting and killing him instantly, troopers said.

Had he not been distracted while typing in a message ...

Had he been wearing his seat belt ...

His untimely death should be a warning to all motorists who think of themselves as capable of multi tasking and those who think they are impervious to harm.

Too many people have a cell phone glued to their ear as they travel down the road. Motorists point out that chatting on a cell phone is no different from carrying on a conversation with a passenger or listening to the radio.

Ringing cell phones, however, distract drivers; answering them is a distraction, and so making a call.

Anyone who has tried to drive and punch in a number probably found the vehicle weaving on the road. Think about the concentration needed to send a text message or find a programmed number.

Consider these 2003 statistics from a Harvard study:

Motorists using cell phones may have caused 2,600 deaths, 330,000 injuries and 1.5 million instances of property damage.

Many people resent new laws that seem designed to protect them from themselves. Yet, doing something about the epidemic of motorists who use these devices would protect the vast majority of other people on the road.

Mr. Rolin's death is tragic enough but consider how much more awful it could have been if he had collided with oncoming traffic.

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