David Kushma's Aug. 8 column, "For safety's sake, hang up and drive," is quite accurate. I usually ride a motorcycle to work, and I have often wondered, "Does your trivial conversation really mean more than my life? If so, please explain this to my wife and son."
Although phones are not the only culprit, in my experience, driver inattention accounts for the lion's share of the traffic problems. Also, while riding with cell phone users, I have observed dramatic degradation in lane and speed discipline, as well as management of following distance.
I have been involved in automotive testing, test driving and racing for almost two decades. There is no doubt in my mind that division of tasks while controlling a vehicle is asking for trouble.
The Federal Aviation Administration has drilled that into private and commercial pilots for years -- when things go wrong, fly the airplane first. That is also why billions of dollars in r&d have been invested in simplifying commercial and military aircraft cockpits -- to keep pilots' attention outside the cockpit, where it does the most good.
Science is proving that there are no technological substitutes that justify a useless, trivial phone conversation while driving a motor vehicle at up to 80 mph. As I have told many motorists: "This ain't your living room."