As readers of this blog know, I’m not a fan of texting while driving, or doing anything else that might distract you from the task at hand–safe driving. That includes using your cell phone, whether hands free or not. It includes making adjustments to your rockin’ music system, if it’s complicated enough. But even simple tasks have caused significant harm. One friend, who shall remain anonymous, crashed his new car while looking down from the road for a moment to find a CD to insert into his music system. Luckily, he was fine. His car was not. Obviously, it ‘s also a good idea to avoid parenting habits that include spinning around to stare at the misbehaving kid in the back seat while yelling, “One more word from you and you’re walking home!” Eyes on the road, not the bratty kid.
But maybe cell phone use, texting, knitting-while-driving, etc., are being unfairly targeted. Obviously, they play a role, and there is no question that countless accidents and injuries have come about by the distraction their use played for the driver. But in my own experience–which does not include texting while driving now–the last time I ran a stop sign because I was oblivious to it was when I was completely occupied about a work issue. I was not doing anything that might have distracted me from my ostensible focus on the road. I didn’t even have the radio on. And I was lucky to have avoided hitting anybody.
So maybe we all need to take a moment of reflection before getting behind the wheel, to make sure we are not about to engage in the type of distracted driving that only we can see. Clearly, you don’t need to text or talk to be distracted. If your mind is elsewhere, one place you know it won’t be is on the road. Wait a few minutes. Take some deep breaths. Ask your spouse/kid/friend to drive. Or call a cab if necessary.
If you’ve been up for a while, and had the chance to read the Sunday Review section of today’s NewYork Times, you may have seen an article entitled “Don’t Take Your Vitamins.” If you haven’t read it, please do.
It will tell you two things. First, taking antioxidants, particlarly in large quantities, is not a great idea. The author, a physician, relies on studies that show disturbing results. Not only did anti-oxidants not help certain populations–they actually hurt by bringing on cancers.
Good to know, and interesting from a scientific standpoint. But the author’s second point is disturbing in the way that makes you want to shout out loud, or break something. The dangers of large doses of supplemental antioxidants are not well known to most Americans, because that’s the way the vitamin manufacturing industry wants it. In 1972, the FDA proposed a bill that would have regulated supplements that contained over 150% of the recommended daily allowance. But the industry tapped a Democratic Senator, William Proxmire, who created a bill preventing the FDA from engaging in exactly that type of regulation, and in 1976, it became law.
As the author, Dr. Paul A. Offit, warns: “As a result, consumers don’t know that taking megavitamins could increase their risk of cancer and heart disease and shorten their lives.”
So here we have yet another example of corporate America doing its very best to keep profits high, even if it means endangering the health of consumers by keeping them in the dark. This is one of the founding tenets underlying “tort reform.” Remember when Philip Morris maintained cigarettes did not cause cancer? When Ford maintained the Pinto was safe? When Chrysler, this very week, maintained that its Jeeps were safe, despite regular instances of passengers being incinerated while driving them?
It is all about avoiding accountability to the American consumer. And in keeping with such insidious, profit-driven tactics, corporate America, the biggest collective supporter of the “tort reform” lie, does not like to disclose dangers associated with its products voluntarily. In most cases, it has required the intervention of plaintiffs’ lawyers, because we talk in the only language corporate America understands: money. It is only when they see the potential threat to their bottom line that a lawsuit could bring that the pendulum swings toward consumer safety, and away from Swiss bank accounts.
In 2009 the lives of David and Linda Kubert were irreversibly changed for the worse when a vehicle driven by a distracted driver plowed into their motorcycle and severed a leg on each of them. The driver, a high school student named Kyle Best, had exchanged 62 text messages with his girlfriend, Shannon Colonna, in the hours leading up to the crash.
What is notable about this case is that the Kuberts sued not only Best for negligence, but Colonna as well. Read More