Multi-Tasking Or Distracted Driving?

Driver in a Mitsubishi Galant using a hand hel...

Driver in a Mitsubishi Galant using a hand held mobile phone violating New York State law. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It has been almost 10 days now that I have decided to leave my phone in my bag when I’m in the car driving.  I now place my bag away from  immediate reach behind my seat on the floor.  In this way, I am not able to instinctively reach for it when it rings, pings, or chirps.

Last week, I had tuned in on Forum by Michael Krasny. The topic that day was about the rising trend in texting, social media posting, and even reading emails by drivers while they are driving in their cars.  A poll by State Farm Insurance showed that nearly one in every four drivers access the internet while they are driving.  These numbers are even low compared to some taken in New Jersey and Oregon where the numbers are in the 60-70% range.  The poll also showed that more and more older people, yup! adults and seniors, now own smart phones and they are texting while driving. The activity is not exclusive to teens.

The growing number of pedestrian and driver accidents because one or more drivers involved in the accident was distracted by texting, calling, emailing, posting or surfing the net, is quite alarming.  When I reached my destination, I watched the video they made available on their site and it was heart-breaking.

After that, I resolved not to use my phone at all when I’m driving. It has been 9 days now and I have been good!

Some of you might think, “What is she patting herself here about? So what if she doesn’t use the phone while she’s driving?”

Map of the United States showing states with t...

Map of the United States showing states with texting while driving laws. States in red ban texting while driving for all drivers, while states in yellow do so only for new drivers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let me explain.  I drive everyday to work across the bay. It takes me 45 minutes one way on good days, and a little longer if or when I hit traffic. Highway driving, especially when it’s straight through for most of the way, can get boring.  I have always been proud of my efficient use of my time. Back when I was a kid, finishing early and accurately, was always rewarded.  I did it by multi-tasking.  It was not unusual for me to be solving a math puzzle while I’m washing dishes and at the same time talking to someone on the phone. Yep, it’s possible. But, really, does it save on time? I have wondered about that.

When I’m at work, I have found myself talking on the phone while composing an email and signing checks.  This has, at times produced some pretty funny results.  And so, I have had to limit myself to as few simultaneous activities as possible.  In this way, I am able to fully focus on what is right in front of me.  It takes a certain amount of discipline to focus and complete a task without digressing here and there, veering off to another activity and then remembering several hours later the previous unfinished task.

I too have been guilty of using the phone while driving. Mostly for phone calls. One could argue that if the call is hands-free, why not?  Well, a caller to the Forum show pointed out quite accurately, that when a driver is engaged in listening to a show like Forum, for example, the driver is listening but not actively interacting. When a driver is talking on the phone, the conversation can take various directions with the party on the other end who is not physically in the car with the driver. This pretty much, for the most part, constitutes distracted driving.  And no, I avoid texting and such while driving. I do sometimes peek at my phone to read a text message when I’m stopped at a light. But even that I realize is a slippery slope to slide into.

English: A sign that states "No Texting W...

English: A sign that states “No Texting While Driving” in West University Place, Texas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember the short-lived sitcom starring Matthew Perry about a year ago?  I only saw the pilot and it showed Matthew Perry’s character trying to get his groove back as a sports radio talk host after the sudden death of his beloved wife. Her death obviously messed him up.  Somewhere as the story unfolds, we learn that she was in a car accident and that she had been texting while she was driving.  There is obviously enough awareness of its dangers out there but we the public may still not be connecting it to our own personal actions.

And so, this is why I have decided to put the phone in the bag and put the bag behind the seat on the floor. It’s harder to reach.  And yes, I’ve had the withdrawal symptoms of briefly stressing over the phone ringing or pinging. or chirping  But, I put on my big girl panties and I got over it!

I had talked about not using my smartphone when I’m out with my hubby, family, or friends for a meal as my commitment to focus on them here.  This is my second commitment.  I will be that one less driver who could potentially cause an accident on the road.  The phone can wait.

This post was inspired by today’s Daily Prompt: Safety First

Related:

This entry was posted in BlogHer, Daily Post Challenge, Daily Prompt, Distracted Driving, Texting and Driving, Uncategorized, YeahWrite and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Multi-Tasking Or Distracted Driving?

  1. trophos says:

    I can’t tell you how often distracted drivers endanger my life when I’m walking around Phila, and it makes me furious and terrified. I wish more drivers would follow your lead. Their text message is not more important than my safety!

  2. Yes I finally drew a hard line too.

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  4. Lucid Gypsy says:

    I totally agree, its just not worth the risk to ourselves and others.

  5. esmeraldalyn says:

    What an opportune time to write about the danger of multitasking. Dr. Clifford Nass of Stanford University, the foremost researcher on multitasking, died two days ago. He pioneered studies that undermined ideas about multitasking. To anyone who claims they’re able to do multiple things at once while still being creative and using their memory, Nass had a ready response.

    “They’re basically terrible at all sorts of cognitive tasks, including multitasking. People who say they’re good at multitasking because they do it all the time are like smokers who say they’ve always smoked — so it can’t be bad for them. People who multitask all the time can’t filter out irrelevancy. They can’t manage a working memory. They’re chronically distracted. They initiate much larger parts of their brain that are irrelevant to the task at hand. And even – they’re even terrible at multitasking. When we ask them to multitask, they’re actually worse at it. So they’re pretty much mental wrecks.”

    The bottom line is that there is no such thing as effective multitasking. Multitasking produces not only mental wrecks but also car wrecks!

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  7. Good for you – we all need to disconnect for a while. It’s illegal in Australia to use a mobile phone unless it’s properly hooked up a handsfree – can’t use the speakphone option. So we all put the phone miles away so we’re not tempted.

  8. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Safety First | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss

  9. Well done you! Putting it out of reach is a good idea but turning it off altogether is even better because then there can be no temptation. Having a conversation is bad texting is indefensible. In Italy recently it seemed to me that using a mobile phone while driving was practically the normal thing to do.

    • likeitiz says:

      Oh my! I can imagine an Italian driver with phone in one hand talking heatedly and the other had madly gesturing. Then there’s no hand in the wheel for a few seconds…l

  10. It is distracted driving and distracted driving is hazardous. I don’t buy any other explanation or defense. Your action is laudable and appreciated, and ought to be followed by others. Alas ,…

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