The recent news that stronger penalties for using mobile phones while driving took effect Dec. 1 brought back memories of three accidents involving my car.

The first one, I was parked at the curb, unloading scouting gear from my van. Luckily I was not directly at the rear because my van was hit by a young man who was searching for his cellphone he had dropped on the floor.

The second time I was on a main road in the center lane, stopping for a light that had just turned yellow. The car cut across the solid line to get ahead and hit the front of my car. The man got out, still on the phone, to check the damage to his own car. I motioned to pull over to the curb side and he nodded (still on the phone), got back in his car and stopped (still talking). When I pulled up behind and turned off my engine, he shot off into the distance and I did not have a chance to even get the car’s license number.

The third time I was stopped at a red light and was hit from behind by a young truck driver who at least put down his phone before coming to discuss the accident.

I am wondering how these “tighter” rules are going to make any change. I drive a van, which means I sit higher than passenger cars and can look down into cars next to mine while sitting at red lights. I am alarmed by the number of young drivers looking at their phones held below window level. A police officer in a car pulled up beside cannot see what is going on. I have my doubts that these drivers will be caught even should they cause an accident.

I have been knocked over twice by cyclists on phones. Once by a mother with two children on her bike, front and back, with no helmets. Luckily, no one was seriously injured. And this year by a man, riding in the dark with no light other than the cellphone he was looking at. Even walking is becoming risky with so many young people staring at their phones. What good are “rules” if they are not enforced?


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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