Driving Though Distracted

<B>Charles Grodin</B> On Offices Of The Road

Since most car accidents happen in the month of December, I've been thinking about a recent headline in USA Today.

A study by the AAA and the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety found that 25 percent of the 6.3 million car crashes each year are caused by divers distracted by other activities, like talking on a cell phone or using Internet devices and dashboard navigational systems.

In other words, if you're not watching the road while you're driving, your chances of crashing go up. We need studies for this?

Some of the navigational systems have a voice that warns you of danger. It tells you that if you look away from the road, it can lead to a serious or fatal accident.

Talk Back
If you want to reach Charles Grodin to tell him how much you liked - or didn't like - his piece, email him at 60II@cbsnews.com.

Some things do raise obvious questions. It all reminds me of a joke I heard comedian Franklin Ajaye tell years ago during the Carter administration. We were having an energy crisis and President Carter told everyone to turn their thermostats in their houses so far down Ajaye asked, "Why have a house?"

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says 44 percent of drivers have phones in their vehicles, 7 percent have email access and 3 percent can receive faxes.

I'm starting to think with 6.3 million accidents a year, maybe all activity for a driver in a car aside from driving should be illegal. Maybe when we use voice-activated phones where you never look it'd be OK. But get your faxes and emails at your office or at home.

And navigational systems? Get directions, or a map. You're not going to drive to El Salvador - although you can, by the way.

So while driving, it's legal to talk on the phone, look at navigational systems, get email and faxes. The only thing that's illegal is if you don't fasten your seatbelt. With all of that office activity, you better fasten your seatbelt.