Three events over as many weeks have put the Barometer over the edge on the texting epidemic. Whilst traveling with family down from Arizona’s Rim Country to the magnificent Phoenix Valley of the Sun, all travelers in the car noticed a small gray car ahead at the stoplight in Payson. The gray car sat motionless during a green light. A honk to awaken the driver came too late. The light turned red. We pulled out from behind the gray car and alongside it in the right-hand lane. Its young female driver was busily texting. She managed to look up in time to awaken to the next green light. She took off like a bat in a scary movie when the heroine has entered the premises. We lagged behind, not wishing to be anywhere near the gray car.
We watched as she traveled in the left lane, swerving off the road three times, once so much so that she kicked up dirt because her car had strayed off the pavement. We pulled along side the gray and rolled down our windows with the hope of catching her attention. For her own safety and that of others, we were going to yell, “Stop texting.” Our plan was thwarted because she was so busy texting that she did not see our waving arms. We dropped back with sadness, offering a prayer that she might make it the 75 miles down to the Valley in safety. We kept our distance.
The following week in the Indianapolis airport, the Barometer was on the right side of the long walkway headed to her gate. However, considerable darting and weaving resulted as an approaching 30ish business man deep into texting was walking as if he were three sheets to the wind. The Barometer sensed a collision in the air. Finally, the Barometer had no place to weave to avert his weave to the wall. Here are the words offered to the distracted traveler, “I have nowhere else to go. You may have to look up from your phone.” He finally looked up and offered a meek, “Sorry.” Still, he went on his merry, albeit weaving way continuing to text, as other travelers did all sorts of dosey-does and/or river-dances to avoid the heads-down teeter.
Now this week. The close-call phenomena ended. Alexandra Mansonet, the CEO of a nonprofit, was texting whilst driving her black Mercedes-Benz to work. Her sister-in-law had texted her about choices for dinner, “Cuban, American, or Mexican. Pick one.” Ms. Manoset’s cell phone indicated that she had typed the letters “m” and “e.” At that point, as Ms. Mansonet testified, she looked up and saw a Toyota Corolla in front of her but could not stop in time because of her proximity and speed, the laws of physics still in effect even in New Jersey. Ms. Manoset hit the Toyota, which struck and killed Dr. Yuwen Wang, a young scientist out for a morning walk.
Ms. Mansonet was charged with reckless vehicular manslaughter. She testified that she had looked down to turn on her rear-window defogger, and then saw the Toyota. She did turn over her cell phone to police at the scene. Investigators found the text and her unsent response of “m” and “e.” Ms. Mansonet testified that she was not texting at the time of the accident because she decided that it was best to just call her sister-in-law later because she was not sure what she wanted for dinner. The jury was not persuaded, and she was convicted of reckless vehicular manslaughter.
After the verdict, Dr. Wang’s stoic husband said, “I hope more people could realize the consequences of texting while driving.”
What more need be said? The life of a young scientist who had just celebrated her sixth wedding anniversary with her husband the night before was ended.
Texting is a self-absorbed and self-absorbing activity. Apart from that shallowness is its dangers to others. There is a world out there of living, breathing, walking (or attempting to do so) human beings. For their sakes and your own, all you textures: STOP!