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Safe talking

MBJ Editorial

BellSouth Mobility. CenturyTel. Cellular One. Powertel. Cellular South. These and other wireless phone service providers have made constant communication a way of life in Mississippi: Behind the wheel. On the golf course. Out fishing. It is a connected world.

Perhaps the greatest asset to having a cell phone is found on the road. See an accident. Call for help. Save a life. One drawback, however, is that drivers on an all-too-frequent basis are not paying attention to what’s going on around them. We’re talking to the kids. Checking our voice mail. Ordering a pizza. The convenience is great but the price we pay for it is just too high.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, cell phone usage slows drivers’ reaction times. With the rapidly developing ubiquity of the devices, more accidents are certain.

So, what can we do? How do we stay plugged in without crashing the minivan or SUV into a retaining wall, through the median or over a poorly packed mattress?

Last week, which was Wireless Safety Week, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association offered a list of tips to help drivers and their cell phones make it home in one piece:

• Use a hands-free device when talking.

• Don’t take notes while driving and talking.

• Don’t engage in stressful or emotional conversations that may divert your attention from the road.

• Use your wireless phone to call for help.

• Use your wireless phone to help others in emergency situations.

Wireless technology has dramatically changed everyday life, and for the most part, made the world a safer place to live, do business and travel. We just have to do our part to make sure that those improvements aren’t lost in a sea of twisted metal, smashed glass and broken Nokias.

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