Morning Read: Distracted driving North Country style

This Holstein would like for you to put down your smart phone when you drive. Photo source: Wikipedia

Stephen Bartlett reports for Denton Publications on the story of a Cadyville man who was checking his email on his “smart” phone when he plowed his van into a herd of dairy cows.

New York State Police reported that Kyle D. Mattoon, 33, was driving his 2010 Dodge Caravan on the Star Road near the intersection of Bohon Road and reading an email on his Blackberry.

Keith Brior, a local farmer who lives at 7942 Star Road, was steering a herd of roughly 200 dairy cows across the intersection.

Brior saw Mattoon’s car heading toward the animals and waved his arms to get the driver’s attention.  Mattoon was unable to stop in time and struck multiple cows.

Five cows had to be put down, and nearly a dozen more were injured.

As a radio journalist, I would love to have a recording of the conversation between that dairy farmer and that distracted driver in the long minutes before police arrived on scene.  I imagine some colorful language was used.

So here’s a question that’s perfect for In Boxers:  In all honesty, how much extra-curricular activity do you take on while driving your car or truck?

I’ve been known to eat a hamburger or two while navigating back roads in the North Country.  How about you?  Do you stay focused?  Or should the cows run for the barn when you hit the highway?

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19 Comments on “Morning Read: Distracted driving North Country style”

  1. dave says:

    “how much extra-curricular activity do you take on while driving your car or truck?”

    Quite a bit, actually. I am guilty of doing most of the things people complain and warn about. But I can not even fathom, ever, taking my eyes off the road long enough to not see a herd of cows in front of me, or spacing out so bad that I am that unaware of my surroundings. That is absurd.

    Was he reading an entire two paragraph email without looking up?!

  2. I sometimes eat snack food (chips, etc.), drink (soda), and listen to NCPR. Yes, that can be a distraction too. :-) I’ve had my own encounter with a texting driver on the May Rd. He came over a rise smack in the middle of the road and staring at his phone rather than where he was going. I was fortunate enough to be quicker than those cows but I did leave some tracks across someone’s lawn in the process.

  3. Brian Mann says:

    I wonder if there has ever been an accident where a driver was searching for NCPR’s local frequency. Ah the dangers of public broadcasting…

    –Brian, NCPR

  4. It's Still All Bush's Fault says:

    Why didn’t the exchange between the dairy farmer and the driver end up on YouTube? Did the driver’s last tweet read, “Hit a moo! BRB!”?

    Despite laws passed to prohibit the usage of cell phones when driving, one can observe at least 1/3 of the drivers in the Gouverneur area with cell phone to the ear. Potsdam and Canton are worse. It is more difficult to spot the texting drivers. Typically, I see the texters crossing the street with no acknowledgement of the traffic, heads down, thumbs just a flying sending their most important LOLs to their BFFs.

    I find the number of people who seem to be constantly on their various mobile devices to be astounding. Before everyone had cell phones, think of how many of these obviously hyper-critical exchanges must have be missed.

  5. Newt says:

    re NCPR, I know there have been some close calls. Funny, because before you mentioned it, I was thinking how none of that applies to me.

  6. It's Still All Bush's Fault says:

    NCPR Brian:

    I had my kids program the local NCPR freqs on my radio. No searching, just push a button. I’m sure there an app for it, if the kids aren’t around.

  7. Pete Klein says:

    Other than listening to the radio while driving, I stay focused.
    Speaking of cell phones, I suggest the law be toughened to include the confiscation of the cell phone until the offender appears in court. If found guilty, the judge then stomps on the phone and levies the fine.

  8. mervel says:

    Two tickets for cell phone use in 2011, I now stay focused.

  9. Phil says:

    Just tickets and perhaps a fine for cell phone use while driving? The punishment doesn’t fit the crime. I suggest that creative judges sentence violators of the the cell phone ban while driving to one year of driving with a standard tramsmission vehicle – preferabley a five-, six- or seven speed. There’s nothing like having to shift each time you slow down or speed up to focus the mind on driving.

    By the way, I also recommend that all new drivers drive a standard for at least a year or two, especially teenagers.

  10. Kathy says:

    Ahh, the proverbial Pandora’s Box with man’s advancements. Then we have to regulate the contents that escape.

    I stay focused but admittedly, my cell phone has caused me distraction along with thinking I can pull a deposit slip out of my checkbook to be ready for the bank drive-through.

    Recently, I’ve heard of legislation pending regarding dogs confined in cars because of the distraction. People shave, put on make-up, eat, drink, look for a CD. How are these things any different? I even know of “gawkers” who hardly keep their eyes on the road!

    While I realize the importance of keeping society safe, (drunk driving laws, etc.), I now come across vehicles pulled off to the side of the road everywhere (on cell phones) which can also be a hazard.

    I resent the cell phone law.

  11. Walker says:

    Kathy, those cows could have been somebody’s children.

  12. mervel says:

    The thing is I HAVE a standard transmission. I agree about having teens learn to drive a standard. They are becoming hard to find.

  13. Mark, Saranac Lake says:

    Requiring new drivers to learn on a standard: agreed – driving has become a very insulated experience in today’s cars. To drive along at 70+ mph with all the things that keep one completely removed from the fact that we’re going along in a 2 ton pod at SEVENTY mph can seem like a very mindless experience! I drive a standard and feel it really does help keep me oriented to the driving experience and the gazzilion things that come up while driving that can quickly turn into a disaster…like cows, I guess, at least for that texting driver in Cadyville. In the summer I drive (on nice days) a mid-60s MG – man, you’ve got to be totally focused to drive that thing – cell phone?…forget it – you couldn’t even hear it ring anyway with all the noise the car makes (wind noise and rattling, not the muffler) And if I’m caught in the rain it really gets exciting with those tiny one speed windshield wipers. So no extra curricular activity while driving that car – it is a stark reminder of what driving is really all about: staying very focused.

  14. Kathy says:

    Walker, I know. It’s just that sometimes, trying to regulate so much becomes tedious. Cell phone usage is up there with the other things I listed. All are distracting. It will only be a matter of time when those things will be illegal, too.

  15. Michael Greer says:

    Did he wreck his car and break his stupid neck? Did the farmer jab him with a pitchfork? Is there no justice in this world?? Did they at least make him dig a hole big enough for five cows?

  16. It's Still All Bush's Fault says:

    You don’t want to hit a cow with an MG.

  17. Barb H. says:

    @ Pete Klein: I agree wholeheartedly! This would probably do more to end talk/texting while driving than anything else!
    “I suggest the law be toughened to include the confiscation of the cell phone until the offender appears in court.”

  18. Fred Goss says:

    A character in a book I loved years ago said “God never told nobody to be stupid”

    I was alongside a young lady in a compact car and could see from my medium sized SUV that she had her cellphone between her knees so, she supposed, no one could see that she was texting while driving. “State troopers and sheriffs have big cars” I should have yelled at her.

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