So You HAVE to Yack or Text While Driving? Give Me a Break

Rant alert! A friend just got rear-ended, this morning, by a guy who was looking down constantly in stop-and-go traffic. She’s pretty sure he was texting.

How can we stop people from doing this stupid thing? What is it going to take?

Actually, I would be totally OK with no cell use at all while driving. (And yes, I know a lot of people disagree with me.) I’ve seen so many drivers involved in heated, excited, animated conversations while on hands-free phones. It’s just not worth the risk. We’ve all heard the stats from AAA and NHTSA about hands-free yacking not being any safer than holding a cell while driving.

It’s not only where your hands are. It’s where your BRAIN is.

The person on the other end of the phone doesn’t know when you’re in a tricky driving situation that requires your full concentration. Someone sitting in the car and talking with you sees the situation and gets it. When my son, Matt, is driving with me, he knows that the time to ask me a question isn’t when I’m trying to merge onto the freeway.

Emergencies? No problem. Use the phone. But yacking with your girlfriend about what she got at Target while you drive to school to pick up the kids? Give me a break. It’s dangerous and it’s just not necessary.

I’ve been trying to not be the person on the other end of the phone when someone is on a cell while driving, too. I’ll admit I haven’t always asked to talk at another time when this happens. I do it sometimes. But not always. But I’m going to do it all the time now. Otherwise I’m being pretty two-faced about this.

I don’t want to be the person you’re talking to when you get in a wreck. I don’t want to be the person your child is talking to when she rolls the family SUV.

We set examples for our kids with everything we do. And we made a family commitment about this. Randy and I never talk on a cell, or text, while driving. (And we’ve managed to lead a pretty normal, happy life while not partaking in this part of the current driving culture, by the way.) Matt has gone thousands of miles with us in the car and has never seen us do it. He’s seen us pull over to make a call. Or ask him to answer a call while in the passenger seat. Or check messages when we get to our destination. But we don’t call and drive.

So when we tell him not to text or talk on his cell when he starts driving (soon - gulp), those won’t be empty words coming from mom and dad.

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17 Responses to “So You HAVE to Yack or Text While Driving? Give Me a Break”

  1. John Sternal says:

    Hi Kathy, you GO girl lol! As a very new parent but also one that’s guilty of talking on the phone while driving, it will certainly be interesting to see how my beliefs change as my new son gets a little older and he’s in the car with me. I can tell you I’ve already noticed drastic changes in my driving habits when he’s in the car. I’m sure talking on the phone will also be going bye-bye.

    John
    @sternalpr

  2. Kathy says:

    John, just wait till your son starts asking questions about driving, and how you drive, and “Why did you honk at that lady, Daddy?” It’s pretty funny when we get to see ourselves through their eyes. And it will start before you expect it to.

    Thanks so much for the great comment!

  3. John Sternal says:

    This whole driving while texting issue is far from over and I think it’ll eventually change the way in which we drive and communicate - or not communicate. It’s just too dangerous and eventually there will be a lot of pressure to ban it from cars. The interesting thing will be how the cell phone companies and their lobbyists deal with this situation down the road.

    John
    @sternalpr

  4. Kathy says:

    Yes, the cell phone companies yammer on about safety while lobbying against laws that will make us safer.

    But truly, how much will the laws help if they are not enforced? We have a no-cell (except for hands-free) law in California and my town is crawling with people who just blow off the law. And the police are too busy to stop most of them. Also the fine is not enough to make it worth worrying about for many people.

    So if we do pass laws, we need to put some teeth into them. And we need to make them enforceable.

  5. Alisa Bowman says:

    I personally feel less stressed if I don’t multi task. I don’t answer my phone in any way when I drive. Heck, half the time I don’t answer it at home. Either I’m going to devote my full attention to someone or none of my attention. I never do the inbetween thing. The most multi tasking I do while driving is listening to the radio, daydreaming, or shoulder dancing to a song.

    Anyway, we can just train kids to say something when their parents text and drive. Whenever my husband gets on his phone, my 5 y o yells: “Daddy! I told you! No talking on your cell phone while driving!” It works for the most part. It’s similar to the Woodsy the Owl stuff from the 70s and the No Littering campaign from around the same time period.

  6. Kathy says:

    Awesome comment, Alisa.

    I agree, multitasking is stressful. Danger aside, I’m just happier when I don’t try to do 18 things at once!

    And I love the comment about training the kids! ;)

  7. Rachel W. says:

    Kathy,

    Texting while driving has long been one of my pet peeves. More than that though- I can’t even imagine what could be so urgent as to put your life and my own at risk to take your eyes [and concentration] off the road.

    I regularly remind my Twitter friends that if they mention updating while in the car/behind the wheel, I’ll simply delete them from my real and virtual friend list.

    It terrifies me that people could be that stupid, selfish and dangerous all for a potential LOL

  8. Kathy says:

    Perfectly said, Rachel! I will start doing the same thing on Twitter. Some people think they are too cool, doing this. It’s not funny. Someone can be disabled for life. Or die.

  9. Kathy says:

    BTW, Rachel, the threat of losing you as a Twitter or FB friend should be enough to put them on the straight and narrow! You’re too much fun to lose!

  10. Paul says:

    I believe there’s an app that can disable the phone based on the speed its traveling (using the GPS chips in the phone). But, of course, that would also disable the phone if you’re the passenger or in a bus or train where it would be “safe” for you to text or yak.

    Personally, I think that (30 minute long!) graphic PSA from the UK should be shown at EVERY driver’s ed course! (Snippet here: http://www.youtube.com/watch#!v=DGE8LzRaySk)

    Just like drunk driving, I think teens need to see the “tragic cost” — in terms of their lives, the lives of friends and of innocent bystanders — if they choose to be irresponsible. (Do they really want to go around for the rest of their live as causing the death of *fill in the blank* or that they severely debilitated themselves or someone else??)

    But then, I suppose every teen who sees it will just say, “But that’s just actors and pecial effects!!! I’d never do that or have that happen to me in real life.”

    So how did we lessen things like “drunk driving”?? Consistent and multiple pressure points/plans of attack/”solutions!!”

    BUT note: We haven’t “solved” the problem of drinking and driving yet, either!

  11. Kathy says:

    Paul, you make excellent points. I think you’re right about needing consistent and multiple pressure points/plans of attack/solutions. And you’re right about drunk driving still being a problem, of course.

    If enough people make it clear that it is NOT COOL to do this, maybe people will listen. And we’re not just talking about teens.

  12. Jill says:

    You know, I don’t know if it’s so much a device that’s a problem or rather the sheer negligence of the driver. I could make the same argument that the radio in the car is equally distracting if you are fidgeting with the buttons as is turning around to yell at your kids or having a conversation with a passenger. My issue, is that if you are accelerating, you should have your eyes and attention on the road. If you can’t do that, don’t drive.

  13. Kathy says:

    Good point, Jill. It could be a burger, a cigarette, a dropped CD, putting on mascara (which still blows my mind when I see it), shaving or any of the other things that people do in a car that can be distracting.

    Bottom line: Driving the car safely is Job #1.

  14. Bravo for this post! I am so sick of seeing parents, in particular, driving carpools full of kids while talking on the cell.

    Imagine, if you killed your kid and someone else’s while yacking on the phone!! How would you live with yourself?

    We need to make this behavior socially unacceptable and this blog post is a nice step in that direction.

  15. Kathy says:

    Jennifer, you are SO right. How would any of us live with ourselves if that happened? This definitely needs to become socially unacceptable, and we all need to do whatever we can do to spread the word and help make it so.

  16. Donna says:

    I think we ARE getting to the point where texting while driving IS socially unacceptable - and posting this kind of discussion is exactly the sort of thing that’s going to do it. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to end, just as people still get arrested on DUI’s. All we can hope for is awareness so that fewer people do it.

  17. Stephanie says:

    Thanks for bringing this topic to the table for discussion. I agree that texting on the road is super dangerous - and I almost never talk on my cell when driving. I prefer to listen to music or talk with my funny and fabulous little girls! :)