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the amount of mail we received over the cell phone...

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We were shocked at the amount of mail we received over the "cell phone" column
we wrote some weeks ago. While we expected to get hate mail from the cell phone
industry (we'll print that in an upcoming column), we were stunned by how many
readers agreed with us -- that using a cell phone while driving is inherently
dangerous (OK, we opined that "it's immoral, unethical, inconsiderate and
downright stupid," and ought to be prohibited). We complained about being cut
off and swerved into by distracted drivers with phones against their ears.
Here's a sampling of the mail we received:

Dear Tom and Ray:



Whatever you guys do, DON'T back down on this! I live and drive in Plano
(Dallas), the yuppie capital of the world, and everyone who wants to think
they're anyone has an SUV (stupid useless vehicle) and a permanent phone in
their ear as they barrel down the road, blissfully not signaling because their
hands are full. If they don't make all phones illegal, they at least ought to
make the only legal ones voice-dialable and hands-free! Keep up the good work! -
- Barb

***

Dear Tom and Ray:



No question, just a comment: While at a store recently, I was hit by a shopping
cart driven by a woman with a cell phone stuck to her ear. Later, I was lucky
enough to see her driving away in her minivan still talking on the cell phone. I
say "lucky" because at least she was in front of us. -- Greg

***
Dear Tom and Ray:



My contention is that most people use, at best, half their brains when they
drive, and using the car phone takes away from THAT half. I recently read an
article quoting test results indicating that the accident rates for car phone
users are similar to people whose blood-alcohol level is at or above legal
limits. -- Barbara

***

Dear Tom and Ray:



Read your recent column about cell phones in cars. Yeah, you'll probably get
lots of bad press, hate mail, etc., but this ain't one of them. I salute you for
taking the sensible, rational, logical and statistically proven position that
using a cell phone while driving is as dangerous as DUI. In some countries, it
is illegal to do so unless you have a hands-free model and punishable by fines
that make car-pool lane violations seem like petty cash.-- Bill

***

Dear Tom and Ray:



You are right! right! right! about motorists not using car phones. Yesterday, a
lady in a Camaro pulled out right in front of me from a side street. My little
car screamed when I applied the brakes. She never looked my way because she was
deep into conversation on her mobile phone. She never even realized how close
she came to having a 1996 Plymouth Breeze crammed up her tailpipe. -- Norma

***

Dear Tom and Ray:



I also think the car insurance companies should INCREASE the rates they charge
to people who use car phones! They should do a statistical study to find how
many accidents involve the use of car phones. I think the results would be
shocking. Car phones have got to be costing them lots of money ... and we all
know how the insurance companies feel about losing money! -- Bill

***

Dear Tom and Ray:



You have a very wide audience and a clear venue in which to put forth the
message of this extremely dangerous practice. Is there any way we can promote a
nationwide movement to pass laws banning the use of hand-held phones while
actually driving? I understand that some European countries have already
instigated such laws. -- Eileen

TOM: You might start by clipping this column and sending it to your friends,
neighbors and legislators. We won't complain.

RAY: We'll print some more responses in coming weeks, including some defenses of
cell phones in cars, and a response from the cell phone industry (which, we
understand, its legal team is working on as we speak!). Stay tuned.

***

Get Tom and Ray?-s best-selling pamphlet, "Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car
Without Even Knowing It!" You?-'re probably doing at least one of them! Send $3
and a stamped (55 cents), self-addressed, No. 10 envelope to Ruin, PO Box 6420,
Riverton, NJ 08077-6420. Allow 6-8 weeks for delivery.


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