After being nearly killed twice in the past week, I figured it was time for a rant. My recent near-death experiences were a direct result of distracted driving. In both instances, the drivers were using their mobile phones. In one the guy was talking, in the other the gal was texting. I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the total number of near misses I’ve had in the past year.
I have about a 30 mile round-trip commute Monday through Friday. It’s mostly highway and that has been where the majority of these incidents have occurred. It’s only been in the past year or so that I’ve been trying to pay attention to what is distracting these drivers. Once I started looking it was really obvious. There are way too many people on their mobile devices when they should be concentrating on driving their vehicles.
When I started driving we had no mobile devices, heck the only cup holders you had were the kind that hung on the door. My only regular distraction while driving was when I lit a cigarette with the push-in lighter in my dashboard. I may have had an occasional distraction caused by dropping an 8-track or cassette tape but I did everything I could to keep my eyes on the road.
Today there are higher speed limits and a lot more traffic. Auto manufacturers have developed cars so jam-packed with technology they practically drive themselves. I think this may be playing a part in how distracted people have become. Between GPS, Bluetooth, Satellite Radio, back-up assistance, accident prevention, keyless entry, keyless ignition and DVD players, its no wonder people forget how to drive.
I’m not a believer in multi-tasking. In my world I need to be focused on whatever task I’m taking on at the time I’m taking it on. When I try to do five things at once, I do none of them to the best of my ability. What works best for me is to prioritize and do one thing at a time. I seem to get things done quicker and better when I focus on what’s right in front of me.
Part of the reason I enjoy motorcycles is the solitude I get when riding. Whether it’s on the street or on trails, it’s just me and the bike. What this allows is for me to be totally focused on what I’m doing. I relish the vigilance required to keep me safe. Constantly scanning traffic or terrain for the best line to take, recognizing possible hazards and making quick decisions to avoid them. Riding is one of the greatest escapes I’ve ever found.
I think it’s time for stronger laws around distracted driving. It seems so illogical to me to be texting while driving. There is never a time when it would be necessary. Too many people have been killed because of it. I think big fines and loss of driving privileges are required to put a stop to it. Talking on the phone is bad enough when you’re behind the wheel but texting is just as stupid and dangerous as driving drunk.
Have we become so important to the world around us that we need to be available 24/7? Personally, I enjoy my unavailable time. I like having the choice of responding to someone when I can give him or her my undivided attention. It makes for a much better conversation.
So please, hang up and drive. If we don’t respond to calls and texts when we’re driving, the roads will be much safer and our lives will be a little more relaxed. I don’t think “more relaxed” is ever a bad thing.