By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Editor's notes: Go hands free or die, and other stuff
Jeff Whitten

In the spirit of a patriotic holiday in the home of the brave and land of the hands-free, I am happy to report I have not yet gotten busted for violating Georgia’s new cell phone law.

I did, however, drive past a woman Saturday on Hilton Head who could’ve been a poster child for why such a Draconian measure is necessary. For the record, she was driving a shiny and probably new Lexus SUV in a weird, wobbly sort of way that had traffic around her treading lightly.

When my wife and I finally got past the Lexus, my wife, who gets mad at me if I holler at other drivers, looked over at the car, saw the woman manipulating a phone with both hands and told the woman what she thought. Out loud.

It might of even been R-rated, though I’m not sure. Unlike me, my wife has a vocabulary usually void of profanity. Unlike me, she usually doesn’t holler at other drivers. Not this time. Maybe I’m rubbing off on her.

“It’s just selfish,” she fumed. “That woman puts everybody else in danger because she can’t pull over or wait until she gets where she’s going to send a stupid message. What’s wrong with these people?”

I commiserated as we took a back way home to avoid I-95, which was backed up as usual due either to catastrophic wreck or just the holiday flow of a gazillion people heading somewhere or the other and presumably enjoying that last day before the hands-free law took effect by texting everyone they knew. As for how obeying the law might be construed as patriotic, well, shouldn’t it?

If you love your country, don’t you obey its laws, even those you disagree with? I know. That’s a philosophical question. I don’t do those very well.

In the more mundane world most of us live in, the hands-free law is a good thing, though I think they could’ve had more fun with public services announcements to promote it.

How about something like “Go hands free and say whee!,” or, “Go hands free, use ‘em to drink more sweet tea!” or, rapper like, “Put your hands-free hands in the air like you just don’t care!” or, to sort of steal New Hampshire’s state motto, “Hands Free or Die!”

Or maybe not.

In any case, I applaud state lawmakers busy applauding themselves for this new law — though let’s face it, speed limits are good laws and have been on the books for years, yet practically nobody on this good green earth pays them any mind. Actually, I take that back. Some folks do obey the speed limit. And if they’re in our way we get mad at them for driving like arthritic turtles. That’s largely because everybody I know (me included) tends to use the speed limit as a starting point. If it says 55, we’re going to shoot for 60 or 65.

And if we’re really feeling our oats and no cops are looking, we’ll get up to 70 or beyond, just to keep up with the people with Florida and New York tags zooming by.

That says a lot about us as Americans, I think. Mostly it says we’re in a great big hurry to get where we’re going.

Speaking of which, one of my independence loving idiot neighbors started shooting off fireworks around 10 p.m. Sunday, a full three days before the actually holiday, and set off a acophony of barking dogs and car alarms.

This is why we need to arm HOAs with loaded AR-15s, in my opinion.

At any rate, there’s a lemming-like, herd mentality in our DNA somewhere. It’s like we worry someone will get to all the good stuff and eat it all if we don’t get there before they do, so off we go in hot pursuit of the best pork chops, law be dang. It’s a contest, I guess.

I blame it at least in part on the self-esteem movement, which convinced a whole generation or two that their happiness is more important than the collective good, though that’s a thought for another day.

For the nonce, it’ll be interesting to see whether we drivers follow this new cell phone law any more than we obey speed limits, which often only apply when cops are in sight.

I hope we do. I’m willing to bet we don’t.

By the by, there was a time about 15 years ago when I decided to experiment by driving the speed limit everywhere I went.

It only lasted about a week because it always seemed people behind me were trying to run me into ditches.

Before it was over I got more dirty looks than a liberal at a South Bryan barbecue.

So, I soon gave it up and started speeding like everybody else, especially after a guy driving a log truck had a conniption fit and nearly put me into a swamp because I wasn’t pedaling fast enough. That was in the old days on Highway 196 when it was two-lane all the way to Hinesville. And that was one scary road, some of you fellow old timers will remember. Those curves were deadly. It kind of reminds me of driving just about anywhere on I-95 today, and it’s only going to get worse.

For starters, another interchange is in the offing, and while it will probably make some folks a lot of money, it’ll add one more danger to an already deadly area: Truth is, these days interchanges should come with a warning: “Beware, whackjob motorists entering freeway.”

If you doubt, raise your hand if you’ve ever been driving past an entrance ramp when some driver tenth in line suddenly decides to swoop on out into the center lane and into the path of a semi.

You just can’t dodge stupid forever.

What’s more, projections are that another 10 billion people are going to squeeze into the Sun City Rincon-Port Wentworth-Pooler-West-Chatham-South Bryan-Richmond Hill-Midway-Riceboro-Eulonia-Darien-Brunswick-Kingsland-St. Mary-’s Megalopolis -Plantation-Spaceport-Outlet Mall-Funpark-Corridor in the coming years, and the odds are at least 1 million of them will pull out in front of you, laugh and then run you over.

At least, they will until the tidal creeks rise and we’re all paddling around in boats.

So happy Independence Day, a day late. Don’t call me while you’re driving and I won’t call you.

Sign up for our E-Newsletters