The Mast-Head: To School, Carefully

Then there are the real dopes — the drivers on cellphones

   School is back in session, which means that once again my wife and I are on the road, going back and forth to Bridgehampton, where two of our three children are enrolled. Lisa took on the first day’s trips Monday; I was able to avoid making a run until midafternoon on Tuesday.
    Last year our middle child was able to get a bus back to East Hampton after school, which was helpful since Lisa and I work there. This year, the bus route has changed, so until we can work up a carpool or another arrangement, one of us has to make the trek.
    I find that the rides are never dull; it is always interesting to see what new visual indignities the Wainscott strip businesses have heaped upon the roadside. Then there are the real dopes — the drivers on cellphones.
    Tuesday’s run was an inauspicious start to the commute. As a long line of vehicles worked its way past the Bridgehampton School, the sound of a siren could be heard. The East Hampton dispatchers had issued two calls that I heard before I left my office, one a possible stroke, the other someone with severe abdominal pain. One of them was likely to be aboard the ambulance, which was moving fast.
    I began to move to the shoulder, but, as I watched in my rear-view mirror, I grew concerned about a woman driving a minivan immediately behind me. She was talking on a cellphone and making as if she were going to go around my truck and continue on. I jerked the wheel and leaned on my horn to get her attention. It worked, and she put down the phone and pulled onto the shoulder as the ambulance raced past.
    From what I hear, this kind of encounter between ambulances and oblivious drivers is commonplace. It is worse for volunteer emergency medical technicians and firefighters, whose flashing dash or grille lights are easy to miss — especially by those not following the old drivers-ed rule about frequently checking the mirrors.
    There’s not much any of us can do other than stay alert. Please.