Drivers on the phone drift off to their own world

Do you ever notice how we don’t really notice things around us?

That’s good news for people who don’t want to be noticed but — short of harping on our inability to multitask — we just zone out too much at the wrong times.

I was on GA 400 about 7 p.m. this week, heading home. Although ready at a moment’s notice to respond to any crime, or maybe not, I was headed north. Traffic was light and everyone was doing the speed limit, which was about 80 that night. Up ahead, traffic was slowing down in the left lane. Cars were darting around a car. The car looked as if it were was breaking down and coasting to a stop.

Nope. He was on the phone.

Yep. He was on the phone and totally tuned out as he sputtered along in the left lane at just under 50 mph. This guy looked like he was practically taking a nap. His head was back on the headrest and his elbow was propped up on the top of the door frame and he was just blabbing away.

Now that’s okay on some roads, but even 55 mph is just barely getting it over the Mendoza Line (go ahead and Google it) for cars driving on 400. Would you please at least pull over to the right lane if you’re going to putter along?

The phones vs. the phone-nots

I don’t like to talk on the phone. I don’t like to talk on the cell phone in the car because I’m not good at it. I have talked my way two exits past where I should have gotten off. I don’t do well on the phone in the car.

I know people who actually like talking on the phone. What is wrong with them? I see people talking on the phone in the checkout line of the store and you’d think there was no magic electronic device that amplifies the voice by the way they’re talking. Everyone in the #&%^!*$ store knows about their sister-in-law’s affair!

People will talk on the phone while the cop is pulling them over:

  • “Officer, can you hold my phone while I look for my license?”
  • “Sure. Hi! No, this is the officer. I’m fine, how are you? Yeah, hot for sure — especially out here on the road. Can I have your friend call you back? Super! Bye-bye.”

They talk on the phone in the bathroom. (That’s wrong on two levels. First, I don’t want to talk to you when you’re going to the bathroom. And, second, if you can’t multitask well, this isn’t the place to have problems.)

Sometimes we have to talk on the phone, like when you can’t figure out how else to get out of talking on the phone.

But if you’re one of those — yes, those people — who get in the car and then have to dial up someone for mindless conversation, then try satellite radio. (By the way, my wife recommends the Margaritaville channel because she recommends Margaritaville everything.)

If you insist on babbling in the car, let me suggest one thing: Look in the mirrors! If you look in the rear-view mirror and you see 50 cars piled up behind you, you may have accidentally gone to the head of the line in a funeral procession. Or you just might be a bit distracted and traveling about 30 mph under the speed limit.

Pull over!

Also, look around you. You don’t want to miss all those folks flipping you off as they pass on the right.

37 comments Add your comment


July 7th, 2010
7:52 pm

Love this article. I can’t tell you how many times I have yelled, “Get off the frigging phone, why don’t you!!!” Of course they can’t hear me, but I feel a little bit better when I do it. Keeps me from going into full road rage. Thanks for seeing the humor in what could be a serious situation.

Mighty Mosue

July 7th, 2010
8:01 pm

Could not have said it better myself!


July 8th, 2010
5:27 am

Ok, now that explains everything. I will stop asking now.


July 8th, 2010
6:53 am

I’ve always been curious as to who these folks were talking to at 0530 when I’m driving in to work, and the GPS is another thing. You would think that after a day or two that they could find their way to work and back home again.


July 8th, 2010
8:44 am

So, even though you were off-duty, you saw an extremely dangerous situation – an accident waiting to happen – and you did…..nothing?

You could have at least pulled up beside him, honked, flashed your badge and motioned for him to get moving.

But then again, that would take effort (and possibly save a life).

Arizona Ann

July 8th, 2010
8:50 am

Then there are the blue tooth folks. Are they on the phone or are they talking to themselves? I stay clear just in case.


July 8th, 2010
10:38 am

How about pulling the guy over and citing him for inattentive driving or failure to stay to the right, both of which are laws in Georgia? If either of these would happen more often, you wouldn’t need a texting law, or any other deterrent.


July 8th, 2010
11:41 am

I know it’s a generational tech thing but I still feel that if it’s that important, PULL OVER AND TAKE THE CALL!


July 8th, 2010
11:46 am

You want the cops to pull people over and ticket them for these offenses and then you complain they spend too much time making money (much needed by the way) off of useless ticketing and not enough time catching the “real criminals”.


July 8th, 2010
12:02 pm

The main reason I dont carry a gun in the car is because of people who wont get out of the left lane.. You people kill me, but atleast I spared your life.. Hey Steve, next time put forth a little more effort to move this person over to a slower lane. You dont have to give them a ticket, but some kind of attention getter (flashing lights or the pit maneuver would have been fun to watch) would have been better than nothing…


July 8th, 2010
12:24 pm

Steve, why do you even have this blog. As the PIO for Sandy Springs PD do you really have nothing better to do with your time. How about get a patrol car every once in awhile and enforce the law. Use all that mandated POST training for something better than this.


July 8th, 2010
3:01 pm

Maybe Steve doesn’t write about absolutely everything that goes on with his job. Ever think about that? @ Seriously? – don’t criticize something you’ve never done yourself. If you don’t like Steve’s humor, then don’t read it.

Lt. Steve

July 8th, 2010
3:52 pm

Zack, You asked three questions and not one question mark.


July 8th, 2010
4:45 pm

And no Mysterians…

Fan of Lt. Steve

July 8th, 2010
5:43 pm

Excellent comeback Lt. Steve!

Love child

July 8th, 2010
6:46 pm

To Seriously and others: just keep reading the blog honey, and perhaps one day you’ll catch up with the rest of us and figure out the point. In the meantime, have you tried Xanax??

Cop Supporter

July 8th, 2010
6:58 pm

I think this blog is great. If you don’t like whats on here don’t read it. There is enough crime stories in the paper to get your fill. Its nice to have something other than the depressing stories that headline everyday.
Keep up the good work Lt. Steve

Delbert D.

July 8th, 2010
8:55 pm

Awareness? What’s that?

Sandy Springs Guy

July 9th, 2010
8:58 am

These folks make me want to install air horns, so when I sound off behind them they will multi task into their shorts!


July 9th, 2010
10:51 am

Spot on, great article


July 9th, 2010
12:23 pm

Hey Liz, I have been a cop for 10 years, not in Sandy Springs-Thank God. I have done regular patrol, undercover narcotics, DUI task force and even bike patrols, just to name a few. I have even been stabbed and almost shot three times. I have even caught bad guys off duty and worked traffic accidents until Uniformed Officers arrived on scene. When I see a crime happen I do something about it rather than write blogs. So don’t tell me about not knowing what I am talking about. Sandy Springs Police Department has had enough problems with Officers doing stupid stuff off-duty and making the news, getting fired and that kind of stuff over the past few years. That is why I find it ironic that a Lieutenant(person that has authority)with the Sandy Springs Police Department, who from what I see on the news is a Public Information Office or PIO as Public Safety people say, has enough time to write blogs. Oh and Lt. Steve, is that the best comback you have. Big whoop I did not use a question mark. Tell it to my 5th grade teacher ok. Did you and Liz wonder how I knew about POST in my last comments? My intention is not to blast Lt. Steve, even though that is what everyone seems to think. I just can’t believe he is writing stuff in the AJC. I barely have time to be with my family as a cop. You Cops out there know what I mean, off duty jobs, court, training, etc.


July 9th, 2010
12:27 pm

Funny article, pleasant read.

El Kabong

July 9th, 2010
1:20 pm

Totally agree with commenters stating if you don’t like what Lt Steve writes then don’t read it. I look forward to it and it frquently makes me laugh out loud. Very few things in life do that anymore. Right on Lt. Steve!


July 9th, 2010
3:27 pm

El Kabong… You can’t spell or punctuate. You must be buddies with Lt. Steve since he didn’t gig you for that. And why is there a “bong” in part of your name there huh? I have read some of your other comments in other articles. I think the “bong” part might just be accurate.

el kabong

July 10th, 2010
4:49 am

FYI, El Kabong is the super hero alter ego of the old 60’s cartoon character Quickdraw McGraw.

To quote an earlier comment Big Whoop.


July 10th, 2010
4:55 am

Seriously? , Police officers, and Firemen /women are GROSSLY underpaid, when ON DUTY, do NOT expect them to be pulling people over, for being an idiot, while OFF you work 24/7 ? and does YOUR job require you to put your LIFE , on the line , EVERYDAY ? … If not then !


July 10th, 2010
2:37 pm

Zack -
Lighten up, snapperhead!


July 11th, 2010
10:00 am

I don’t talk on the phone while driving. I do use my horn when passing those that do. Especially when they appear to be out of it as Steve suggests.

I see many people, mostly woman, who are behind the wheel of a big machine and they clearly are not in a mental position to react to a pedestrian. They are too busy yacking away and some of them are going to permanently ruin someones life and there own while they are at it.

Too many people with little or no discipline in their life! Me, Me, Me….

Law Abiding Citizen

July 12th, 2010
11:35 am

Hey Zack…..for a cop with limited time….you seem to have plenty of time to blog. Use this time extra time for your family and leave Lt. Steve alone. He is actually shedding awareness on many critical issues. Although he is making light of certain situations, I’m sure that many people understand the seriousness of his concerns and are taking heed of his suggestions. I’ve actually copied a couple of post for workroom discussions. Keep em rolling Steve!


July 12th, 2010
12:40 pm

Umm, yeah, what about all the cops on their cell phones (which seems to be just about all of the time). But oh wait, they are cops, so its okay for them to break the law.


July 12th, 2010
4:56 pm

I love this column. It is interesting and amusing. All you haters go read something else!!! :P

Dudly Do Right

July 12th, 2010
11:29 pm

OK this was a bit amusing, but where are the dumb criminal stories? Thats what people want to read about. Am I right? Please comment…


July 13th, 2010
11:18 am

Zach, if you work real hard, keep your eyes on the prize, and acquire a sense of humor, you too could become a blogging PIO. But don’t be hating on Lt. Steve just because he has a cushy job.

Lt., keep ‘em coming…you make me not hate cops as much.


July 13th, 2010
12:17 pm

To “iknowanidiot” First get your website site running before advertising it. Secondly, if you are a Cop or anyone else in Public Safety, like Firefighters, Emt’s etc. you are required as part of your certification/licensing to react if you see a crime happen or person(s)injured even if you are off duty. If you were to turn your head and not do something about it then you can actually lose that certification and even go to jail since you didn’t render aid. So get the shut up running fool…

stranger in a strange land

July 13th, 2010
2:14 pm

when I am king of the world – people on cell phones driving slow in the left lane are to be shot on sight.
Let that also be a warning to people on cell phones in the express lane at the grocerey store with 123 items, and unable to look for their check book till everything has been rung up


July 14th, 2010
10:14 am

Liz on 7/8 @ 3:01 – I asked him to DO HIS JOB – and your response is for me not to criticize something I’ve never done myself? What? He’s a cop – he sees a dangerous situation, IT’S HIS JOB TO DO SOMETHING (even if off-duty). If you’re going to make a smart-a$$ comment back to someone, at least make sense.

Love child on 7/8 @ 6:46 – maybe I’ll figure it out? What? Figure out that Steve would rather write about seeing a crime than doing something about it? And you’re happy about that. Geez.

iknowanidiot on 7/10 @ 4:55 – Steve’s PAID to protect us and stop dangerous situations when he sees them happening. If he doesn’t want to do that, then he should quit. Your screen name is obviously talking about yourself, because your comment is really dumb – and, no, my job does not put my life on the line everyday (of course a PIO for Sandy Springs doesn’t either) – but I didn’t choose to be a cop. If you choose to be a cop, then be a cop, not a writer.

Zack – Amen brother!


July 14th, 2010
11:46 am

To Seriously? I think most of these people are friends of Steve. Sounds like it to me. As far as Officers doing something off-duty, I wonder if anyone remembers the Off-Duty Atlanta Officer who saw a robbery going down while in his personal car. He did something about it and almost got killed. Thank God that he not only stopped the crime but citizens stopped to help too when they saw the Cop in trouble. Unfortunately that is what Cops are suppossed to do when off-duty.