Q: Hey, Gary, are you sure you really want to hear all of our cell-phone horror stories?
A: Most definitely. This came up because of the billboard posted by Grant Paulson along Highway 101, saying California's hands-free law "sucks" and should be overturned. Here is what readers had to say.
Q: I think Grant Paulson's billboard criticizing the hands-free cell phone law sucks. I bet he's never been hit three times by people talking on their cell phone.
A: Three times?
Q: Yes. First time: rear-ended by guy who was searching for a number while we were stopped at a light in Sunnyvale, and I was knocked into a car in front of me. Second time: sideswiped on Lawrence Expressway. She never put down her phone but said, "I'll call you back, I just got run into." Third time: by a woman who drove off.
A: The stories continue.
Q: I was stopped at a busy intersection in San Francisco at Steiner and Geary streets on my bike when I saw a car being driven by a driver yakking on the cell phone. She ran the red light and was hit by another car. Some time passes and I get a letter from the victim's insurance carrier that the cell phone yakker denied she was at fault. I gleefully filled out the form the insurance company had sent me, describing in detail how the woman had run a red light while talking on the phone. I then got a letter from the victim thanking me so much.
A: Bowman says witnessing that incident is one of the major factors for his being a supporter of a total ban on cell phone use while driving.
Q: The worst incident I came upon was about five years ago as a newspaper reporter in Anderson, when a young women was on a cell phone when she pulled out in front of a large truck. She was at a stop sign and stopped. But, for some unknown reason, she pulled out into the traffic, which was traveling around 55 mph. The truck had no time to stop and crashed into her. The girl died instantly. It was a very sad incident.
A: And "...
Q: I was traveling down I-5 past Redhill Road in Orange County. I was moving along with the flow of traffic at about 75 mph when a car swerved in front of the car in front of me and abruptly braked.
I hit the brakes hard and reflexively looked in my side mirror. What I saw through the morning sun was a vehicle barreling down on my car. The driver swerved to the left and overcorrected to the right.
Just before impact I could see the driver's form through the windshield. She was holding a cell phone. A moment later her car slammed into my driver's side rear passenger door.
This sent my vehicle into a tailspin. I went sideways and then backward across three lanes. I came to a rest facing the wrong way in the number 1 and 2 lanes.
By luck traffic came to a complete stop, allowing me and the other car to hobble over to the shoulder. Bruised and shaken, I got out of the car. My passenger door was caved in with the window frame sticking out into the open air.
The other driver got out and approached slowly, looking very apologetic, saying, "It happened so fast, I just didn't see you."
Still shaking, I replied, "Perhaps if you hadn't been on your (expletive) cell phone!" to which I received a blank stare.
She was socked with a $9,500 bill to repair my car, and the DMV revoked her license.
A: On Monday, more cell-phone horror stories.
Contact Gary Richards at firstname.lastname@example.org or 408-920-5335.