Don't Text So Close to Me

Heavy vehicle drivers who send text messages from the road are 23 times more likely to be in a vehicular crash than drivers who don't, according to a survey from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. (That's not 23%. It's 2300%.)

Here in New Jersey we've known that for three years this month. In April, 2007, then-governor Jon Corzine was thrown from his SUV after a collision that occurred because his driver was allegedly sending text messages from the highway.

Maybe part of the problem is the ridiculous cell phone keyboards? Obviously, predictive text is a challenge. Really advanced smart phones boast QWERTY keyboards. But QWERTY keyboards were designed to slow down touch typers, back in the days when mechanical typewriters had keys that could tangle. In other words, they are purposely counter-ergonomic, making it harder to send text messages.

Don't you think that Nokia and Samsung and other cell phone manufacturers would get together with cellular providers? They could analyze the text messages of the people who most frequently text. They could figure out what the most frequently used keys are, and put them on the outside the keyboard. Number keys, too, would go on the outside of the keyboard. They could design a keyboard expressly for cell phones.

Ooh and here's a really radical Idea they could reverse the keys for lefties, so that the keys we needed most often would be right under our dominant thumbs.

Which is not to say that anyone behind the wheel should ever use a cell phone, hands-free or no. That same survey from Virginia Tech Transportation Institute showed drivers from 1 to 1.3 times more likely to experience a crash or near-crash when they are talking or listening to any cell phone. So, please, please, please, don't text or talk on the phone when you're driving. Especially not in front of a Camry.