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Calls, texts not worth your life

By Walter Geiger I looked on in horror several weeks back as emergency personnel worked feverishly for an hour to cut a young man from his car. He had drifted across the center line and hit a tractor trailer rig. Only a last second swerve by both drivers avoided a certainly fatal head-on collision. As it was, he got a helicopter ride to an area trauma center where he remains, at last report, in a medically induced coma. No one knows for sure what happened but the speculation at the scene was he was preoccupied with a cellphone at the time of the crash. The next day, my own cellphone quit ringing each time an incoming call came in. I reset it several times and did some other troubleshooting but problems kept recurring. My daughters called my phone a dinosaur. It was the oldest among the family’s iPhones and, thus, ‘˜lame’. It was a 4S, developed back just after the Ice Age when the all-knowing, all-seeing Siri was just an infant. How could I carry it, they whined. I was an embarrassment to the females of the household. The phone had served me well. It worked pretty well and survived at least one plunge into the fish pond.I had never updated the operating system and none of the new, cool apps the girls like worked on it. It did contain, however, a treasure trove of ancient apps the youngest, Livia Lanier, had put on it back before she had a phone of her own. There was one small folder on about the fourth screen in called ‘˜Daddy’s games’ that had my stuff in it. There were no games but there were weather and weather radar apps and one of the greatest inventions of our time, Pandora, which has allowed me to pretty much say goodbye to CDs and FM radio. The remainder of the phone’s meager memory was crammed with stuff that I never used but once entertained a child on long trips. With May Melton in Athens and Livia Lanier headed out of the country on a school trip, we needed a phone with FaceTime. So, having an upgrade available, I acquired an iPhone 6. It is larger, lighter and much faster than the old 4S. There is some learning curve with the new operating system but I am overcoming that. The device is fascinating, I particularly like the GPS mapping function that I can order up with a simple voice command to Siri who is approaching middle age now. I was driving down the road a few days after my purchase and the phone began emitting an odd alert sound I had not yet heard. I reached down for it and alternated quick glances at it and the road. One glance at the phone lasted a little too long and when I looked up, I was across the center line. I flashed back to the horrific wreck I had seen and quickly put my phone in the center console where I could not hear or see it for the rest of the trip. I encourage you to do the same thing. No call, text or e-mail is worth our lives! Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette.

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