As seven Army tanks were being unloaded from a vessel last week at Union Pier, this thought crossed my mind: Thankfully, those were OUR tanks! Memorial Day gives us an opportunity to thank all the heroes, past and present, for providing us the lifestyle in which we are privileged to live.
Please don't be "turned off" by the following topics: air bags, seat belts and cell phones.
-- Cell phones: Accidents caused by motorists using cell phones are on the rise. Road & Track reports, "The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis estimates that 2,600 deaths and 330,000 injuries a year are caused by drivers using cell phones."
A letter writer to Automotive News says, "I usually ride a motorcycle to work, and I have often wondered, 'Does your trivial conversation mean more than my life? If so, please explain this to my wife.' I have been involved in automotive testing, test driving and racing for almost two decades. There is no doubt in my minds that division of tasks while controlling a vehicle is asking for trouble."
The letter concludes, "Science is proving that there are no technological substitutes that justify a useless, trivial phone conversation while driving a motor vehicle at up to 80 mph. As I have told many motorists, 'This ain't your living room.' "
-- Air bags: Remember the concerns expressed about air bags being dangerous to drivers and occupants in the event of deployment? Good news: There were no adult deaths and just two child deaths from air bag injuries in 2005. Although one death is too many, it must be remembered that 18,913 lives have been saved by air bags doing their thing since the devices were first installed.
-- Seat belts: If motorists, particularly good ones, would only buckle up, we could see equally good results in reducing highway deaths. An article in the Wall Street Journal says, "The latest report on seat-belt use by the National Highway Safety Administration says men account for 65 percent of the more than 31,000 people killed each year in passenger vehicles."
It further stated, "58 percent of those killed (who) weren't wearing a seat belt crashed along rural roads. In crashes involving pickup trucks, about seven in 10 people who died were unbelted. More than six in 10 males age 8 to 64 who were killed inside a passenger vehicle weren't buckled up, compared with less than 40 percent of women in the same group. Among men 21 to 24, two-thirds weren't wearing a seat belt."
Come on guys, at least consider the loved ones left behind.
The address for your comments, answers and suggestions is 2 Wharfside St., 2A, Charleston, SC 29401.
George Spaulding is a retired General Motors executive and executive-in- residence emeritus at the School of Business and Economics at the College of Charleston.