Texting while driving is crazy

I am referring to a recent article, "New law: Texting on hands-free devices while driving will be legal Jan. 1."

It is not safe to text or use a cellphone while driving.

Common sense tells us so. Studies have demonstrated this and real-life traffic statistics show nearly 500,000 injuries and more than 5,000 deaths related to cellphone use while driving in 2009. Yet, the Legislature has passed a law ignoring reason. Presumably our protector, Gov. Jerry Brown, has signed that astounding law.

How did this shocking situation come about with scant or no public information, warning or outcry by watchdog groups? And oddly, the paper began its article about the situation, "California drivers, feel free to text away -- as long as you don't use your fingers."

This law must go!

Dorothy Kemp

El Cerrito

National dialogue on guns necessary

Although I support reinstatement of the assault weapons ban, I have few illusions about the impact of that legislation in itself.

My greater concern is how to have the sort of national dialogue that is needed. In a country where political conversation has become vituperative and polarized, where we tend to talk past one another, how can we engage the diversity of views that will move us beyond "dilemmas" -- situations in which only two unsatisfactory solutions are presented?

For instance, leftists often declare that no nonmilitary person "needs" an assault rifle. This argument is often ignored (perhaps unheard?) by rightists who instead allude to the Second Amendment.

We also need to hear from folks who own weapons and approve weapons regulation, such as hunters who approve some gun control (and yes, they do exist), citizens who carry handguns with permits, police officers, military personnel and others.

These people may help to facilitate a more fruitful dialogue that is representative of the diversity of views in the United States and more worthy of our democracy.

The Rev. Alexis Easton

Brentwood

Plenty in the news worthy of scorn

Between the Public Utilities Commission, PG&E, the NRA and politicians, it's hard to decide which to scorn first.

Years ago, watchdog PUC rolled over and gave PG&E a rate hike to maintain its pipelines. PG&E, in its infinite wisdom or greed, decided to use that money to give undeserved bonuses to its executives and make sure shareholders got dividends. Now watchdog PUC is rolling over again to give PG&E another rate hike to maintain pipelines.

The NRA's solution to gun violence is more guns -- the deadlier, the better -- and wants to make sure they are put in schools, at public expense, but only in the hands of "good guys" and teachers. After all, "bad guys" can always find ways to get guns.

Politicians are concerned about their future elections and positions on committees, appearing not to care about the cliff that will set the economy back several years. I'm sure they will find a way to make sure they can give themselves some sort of shield so they stay at the edge of cliff and blame each other as the rest of us fall.

Dorothy Miller

Pittsburg

Absurd, wasteful traffic signals

I recently drove on the Richmond Parkway and was reminded about the absurdity of poorly timed traffic signals.

Several times, as usual, the signals stopped a dozen or so vehicles in each direction for zero cross traffic. These two dozen (or more) vehicles waited not for traffic to pass, but for an arbitrary and mismanaged traffic signal to change.

The same issue of nonsense traffic signals is apparent on Valley View Road. Aside from the annoyance, there is a significant waste of fuel while vehicles idle, waiting for nothing but a "go" from an irritating game of Mother May I.

Julie Haselden

El Sobrante