Robert Shulman: Inside idling cars lurk unaware cellphone users

Last modified: Monday, February 17, 2014

To the editor:

Whenever I go to Jackson Street School in Northampton to pick up my grandson, I encounter a long line of idling cars, making it difficult to park and leave.

The other day I parked and walked to fetch my grandson. Parking was troublesome since the parking space was blocked by an idling car. The driver was using her cellphone and she didn’t notice me until I got out of my car and asked her to move. Since all the cars were close together, several cars had to move to clear a passage. I parked, met my grandson and walked with him to my car.

As usual, I was dismayed by the noxious odors being omitted from the cars. Looking carefully, I noticed several drivers engaged with their cellphones. I checked the remainder of the vehicles in the line and observed that in more than 90 percent of the vehicles the drivers were using cellphones.

To my amusement, I noticed that in a couple of the vehicles both the driver and passenger were engaged in separate interactions with separate cellphones. After getting into my car with my grandson, I attempted to back out of the parking space, but of course it was blocked by an idling vehicle. I should not have been surprised, and I was not, since statistically the odds were not in my favor, but in the car behind me the driver was looking at her cellphone and did not notice me trying to exit. I turned off the car, got out and cordially requested that she make room for me to exit. She looked up at me with that somewhat confused look that habitual cellphone users sometimes exhibit, and with an annoyed grimace put down her phone and graciously freed me from my brief confinement.

Robert Shulman



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