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Driving? Then switch off that mobile phone

Driving? Then switch off that mobile phone

  • 2015-01-21
 

A man who had been checking his mobile phone while driving on a rural road, and thereby caused a horrific crash that killed 28-year-old solicitors’ clerk Rachel Titley, has been jailed for six years. Her devastated family agreed to the release of pictures showing the catastrophically mangled cars to help police emphasise the dangers of driving while distracted. Craig Eccleston-Todd, himself only 27, was over the limit, having drunk “three or four pints”, but the main cause of the accident stressed by the prosecution was that he was reading or replying to a text from his wife.

The terrible consequences make me wonder if we are heading towards a ban on drivers having their phones turned on in the car at all. Texting is now the most old-fashioned thing you can do with a phone. The brilliant inventions tempt us to constantly check our social media for updates, we can call people and we can play games, music and podcasts.

Twitter use has convinced me social media is addictive, specifically the desire to check responses to something we’ve posted, seeking the rush of approval, reassurance or argument. I see it in my daughters when they’re awaiting Instagram likes, and the constant chat is why Facebook never sleeps. All of which means we habitually reach for our phones in the slightest moments of pause – and that extends to driving, when withdrawal symptoms can kick in.

When you hit congestion on a motorway you can see all the younger drivers poring over their phones, and it is difficult to believe nobody has taken a peek while driving at speed. A friend says he finds himself so tempted to stray on to his phone that he puts it in the boot while driving.

To be able to cause disaster from so casual an act of distraction suggests that before long we might need a law to prevent us having phones turned on in the car, rather than one which severely punishes people who have succumbed to using them.
A cruel start to the year

“April is the cruellest month” is a great line of poetry, and all reluctant students of The Waste Land are shown how TS Eliot was agonising over the futility of hope, the deceitful buds of new life. But reality is different – and we all know from the bare space where the Christmas tree was, the brandy sauce on supermarket bargain shelves, and the ashen faces of shopworkers, that January is really the cruellest month. Grey, cold, skint and a full 31 days.

The cosiness of winter, fat fowl and twinkly lights have already ceded to that yawning feeling that they never really happened. Head down from now, roll on spring, and sod poetry.
Fashion zeros

The clothes gift vouchers were singeing holes in my youngest daughter’s fashionable pockets the moment they fell off the tree. And she absorbed, from friends or the general marketing frenzy, that if she didn’t get to the sales quickly, all the good stuff would be gone. My wife heroically volunteered to take her to Leeds, where the shiny new Trinity shopping centre magnetises teenage girls over a sizeable portion of Yorkshire. Ours came back delighted with her treasures.

While waiting outside the changing rooms in a store belonging to one of the most coveted brands, my wife got chatting to the young woman servicing the kids for the corporate behemoth. She was, she said, on a zero-hours contract, as were all the staff. The hours the bosses give them depend on how much they take in a week. They sell eye-wateringly over-priced clothes, and worry about paying their rent. They can’t plan or save, and don’t get sick pay or holiday pay. These are basic rights that took generations for workers to gain.

I hope our children’s generation will recognise this and not remain dazzled by the brands.(from the guardian)

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