All of us have seen it. But not all of us have seen the severe case that Beverly A. Schilling of Seabrook saw.

"While driving home on Route 202 in Largo," Beverly writes, "I attempted to pass a light blue station wagon. This is what I observed: {The driver's} left hand was holding the wheel with the ring finger and little finger. The other fingers clutched a pad of paper and pen. In her right hand she held a car phone."

That left very few fingers for steering the car. But then the driver made her life even more difficult, and Beverly's life even more endangered.

"She then held the phone up to her left hand and with the forefinger of her left hand dialed the phone, completely oblivious to highway safety. Isn't that the pits?"

The lowest depths of them, Beverly. But careless car-phone behavior has become commonplace. Do we need new laws? Do we have them?

Dick Hebert, a spokesman for the AAA, said he doesn't know of any laws that specifically regulate car-phone misbehavior. Existing traffic laws usually cover reckless or careless driving caused by dialing rather than steering, Dick said.

Anything cooking in any legislature? "I hear a lot of concern, but not specific action," Dick said.

However, those of you who use car phones to show off have nothing to fear. Out in California, Dick says, the hottest novelty item of the year is a phony car phone and phony antenna.

The set costs $19.95 (vastly less than the real thing). Hook it up, and two things will happen. Your friends will be impressed with all the deals you seem to be sealing at 60 miles an hour. And out of sheer boredom, you may actually find yourself watching the road from time to time.

The school year is drawing to a close, but James Boyle's frustration is only beginning. He has discovered that the only way he can cash a U.S. government check is to pay a hefty fee to a liquor store or a commercial check cashery.

James is a freshman at George Washington University. He received a $169 federal income tax refund about a month ago. He doesn't have a bank account because his student budget wouldn't take kindly to the carrying charges.

Usually, that doesn't present insurmountable problems. James can cash his paychecks at the bank that issues them. If he has a check that's not drawn on a local bank, he signs it over to a roommate who has a checking account. The roommate cashes the check and hands James the cash.

However, neither approach worked when James received his tax refund. "I foolishly assumed that since the United States Treasury issued my tax return check, any bank in America would cash it," James writes. "Wrong. I tried four different banks and was turned down at every one."

James then tried the roommate system. But the roommate's bank refuses to accept second-party Treasury checks, either for deposit or for immediate cashing.

James called the Treasury Department for advice. Try a liquor store or a commercial service, he was told. What he wasn't told was that these places routinely apply a 5 percent service charge, and sometimes more.

I don't know whether James caved in and paid the fee. But I do know that the Treasury Department stands firm in refusing to tell banks what to do and in refusing to cash the checks it issues.

Susan Killary of Treasury's Financial Management Services office said there's no law that requires banks to cash U.S. government checks. She said the government doesn't regulate banks and the government can't force banks to cash checks from people they don't know. Nor is it practical for Treasury to cash the checks it issues, Susan said.

The banks that turned James down say it's a matter of fraud. So many people pass so many government checks that aren't theirs (typically stolen welfare and Social Security checks) that very few banks will touch second-party government checks any more.

Susan Killary did say that help may be on the way. Bills are now before both houses of Congress that would provide "affordable banking." If the bills pass, James would be able to solve his problem by opening a no-fee or low-fee checking account. In the meantime, however, Susan said, it's the liquor store or the corner check-cashing outlet, period.

Well, at least the Hill is on the case, even if a solution may take light years. In the meantime, isn't James Boyle's school the answer?

The GW cashier's office now offers check-cashing service to students for $1 a semester. However, the cashier handles only personal checks, checks written by parents of students and work-study checks issued by GW.

How hard would it be to extend those privileges to U.S. government checks? As I used to say when I was a college freshman, it would be a piece of cake.