Don’t use cell when driving

It’s more than a little bit disturbing that scores of people think it is perfectly OK to text, send emails or just talk on a cellphone while driving.

It is illegal here, but some people just don’t get it.

It is perplexing to be in back of a person at an intersection, the light turns green and the driver just sits there. You can see that his head is down, intent on something on his little cell screen. At least, though, this is just an irritation. It is when he starts moving that a texting or talking driver becomes a menace.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reported that a texting driver is 23 times more likely to get into an accident than a nontexting driver.

Recent reports indicate that not only automobile drivers may be susceptible to such distractions – the crash of a medical helicopter in Mosby, Mo., in 2011 was attributed in part to a distracted pilot. He had exchanged 20 text messages in the hour and 41 minutes before the crash, The Associated Press reported.

Four people died in the crash when the helicopter ran out of gas. The National Transportation Safety Board concluded he would have discovered the situation in a preflight safety check had he not been distracted.

While the helicopter crash may have been unusual, car wrecks are not. The NHSTA reports that 18 percent of fatal distracted-driving crashes last year involved cellphone usage.

AT&T and other cellphone companies have developed apps to automatically send notes to fellow texters that one is driving and will return their message when it is safe.

But to us, the answer is much simpler – just don’t answer the phone or pick up a message when you are behind the wheel.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.