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?”
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.
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
- Hands-Free Gadgets Don’t Mean Risk Free (npr.org)
- Distracted Driving: We’re All Guilty, So What Should We Do About It? (npr.org)
- Older Drivers Catching Up with Younger in Distracted Driving: Survey (insurancejournal.com)
- City campaigns against distracted driving – LubbockOnline.com (eboertjes.wordpress.com)
- Don’t text and drive (textanddrive.wordpress.com)
- Surfing and driving don’t mix (readingeagle.com)
- Texting and Driving (madisonfletcher.wordpress.com)
- A Parent’s Plan For Curbing Distracted Driving – Huffington Post (eboertjes.wordpress.com)
- Anthony Foxx: Winning The Distraction Marathon (huffingtonpost.com)