Not long ago, I was driving in the right lane on Nebraska Avenue between Ward Circle and New Mexico Avenue during the afternoon rush hour, when a white SUV stopped in front of me. I expected the driver was dropping someone off, but no one exited the vehicle. Meanwhile traffic piled up behind me and I was in that zone where everyone gets to go around you and you’re trapped. When I was finally able to get into the other lane, I looked at the driver as I passed and he was talking on a cell phone. Not long after that, on trip across Key Bridge, I was stopped for the left turn when I saw a black Mercedes stop in the right-hand Virginia bound lane, back up a few feet close to the guard rail and turn on the hazard lights. Just when I was thinking what a terrible place this was for car trouble, the woman pulled out a cell phone and started talking. Note: she did not pull out the phone and punch in a number; she answered a call by parking on Key Bridge in rush hour.
I know the District has a hands-free law, but these people mulishly adhering to the letter of the law seem to miss the spirit, which is not to endanger others in traffic. Creating an obstruction in rush hour traffic endangers others. Maybe these people had a dying parent or a child in crisis, but I doubt it. What they probably had was an inflated sense of self-importance and maybe a teeny bit of attitude about the law. I can’t imagine that the law advocates stopping in traffic to talk. Maybe it says to pull to the curb, but does that include the curb in a lane full of moving cars? To those people with pressing calls: get a headset, please, before you cause another cell phone-related accident.