As readers of this blog know, I’m not a fan of texting while driving, or doing anything else that might distract you from the task at hand–safe driving. That includes using your cell phone, whether hands free or not. It includes making adjustments to your rockin’ music system, if it’s complicated enough. But even simple tasks have caused significant harm. One friend, who shall remain anonymous, crashed his new car while looking down from the road for a moment to find a CD to insert into his music system. Luckily, he was fine. His car was not. Obviously, it ‘s also a good idea to avoid parenting habits that include spinning around to stare at the misbehaving kid in the back seat while yelling, “One more word from you and you’re walking home!” Eyes on the road, not the bratty kid.
But maybe cell phone use, texting, knitting-while-driving, etc., are being unfairly targeted. Obviously, they play a role, and there is no question that countless accidents and injuries have come about by the distraction their use played for the driver. But in my own experience–which does not include texting while driving now–the last time I ran a stop sign because I was oblivious to it was when I was completely occupied about a work issue. I was not doing anything that might have distracted me from my ostensible focus on the road. I didn’t even have the radio on. And I was lucky to have avoided hitting anybody.
So maybe we all need to take a moment of reflection before getting behind the wheel, to make sure we are not about to engage in the type of distracted driving that only we can see. Clearly, you don’t need to text or talk to be distracted. If your mind is elsewhere, one place you know it won’t be is on the road. Wait a few minutes. Take some deep breaths. Ask your spouse/kid/friend to drive. Or call a cab if necessary.