Distracted Driving in Graphic Detail
Americans love cars. You know the story. When you were 14 you knew that your world would change in 12 to 24 months. You’d sign up for drivers ed, take the behind-the-wheel training with that old boring fart, then spend time with dad or mom driving errands with them as they would observe how you would treat their second most significant investment. When you passed the test, had access to the family car, or purchased your own, you now had freedom baby! You now had control to go where you wanted, when you wanted, with whom you wanted and listen to your music versus that junk your parents listened to (which of course closely resembles what you’re listening to today). You were living the dream and this was freedom! Freedom to run your life your way and in the car you were the boss and did just about anything you wanted to do.
This morning while watching the news I was drawn to an interview with the General Manager of the New York International Auto Show. I love auto shows. While he was describing a new feature on one of the new Hondas I learned that the front vision camera, positioned behind the rear view mirror (never thought I’d have reason to say behind the rear view mirror), will detect if your vehicle is coming up on another vehicle. If the sensor detects the gap between vehicles is hazardous, an audio alarm is engaged. To my absolute amazement, the female interviewer says, “This is wonderful for women while applying lipstick!”
The interviewer was clearly clueless and that’s why I had to write about what it is that we are doing as a society when it comes to the freedom we embrace when it comes to our cars. Here’s a partial list of what I have seen the past week or so while driving or running.
- Women applying make up
- Many, many, many drivers with phones in hand
- Guy in 2012 white Silverado texting while driving with 3 kids (looked like all were under the age of 4) in vehicle – two clearly unrestrained and moving about freely
- Many, many, many drivers looking down (toward crotch area or maybe some other body part) all appearing to be texting, dialing or doing something with one hand
- One person reading a newspaper while driving as he drove past the southern end of Northridge elementary school
- One guy smoking and texting/dialing while turning at the intersection of 4th and Divide at 5:30 pm
- This one is the best. At about 6 am a guy in his brand new black crossover (looked like a KIA) is approaching the four way stop by the Civic Center. It looks like he is talking on his phone. I am about a half block away, it’s dark, so to be fair I can’t swear it’s a phone in his hand. Anyway he runs the stop sign, hangs a left, hangs another left and then pulls into Gold’s Gym. He must have been in a hurry to do some body building or something. Clearly he had no interest in exercising his brain or common sense.
We, I have been an idiot on more than one occasion myself, are becoming oblivious to our responsibilities while captaining a one ton or more bucket of bolts down the road. While driving, we think we can do whatever we want in our cars. We think we are entitled to exercise whatever feels good while motoring down a highway or touring about town running errands.
Fast Food has made billions selling us food as we make a quick stop and go. GPS has us continuously looking at a screen as we drive in a new or foreign territory. Smokers that don’t litter, look down to snuff out the butt of their choice. Add to the list engaging in a conversation and attempting to make eye contact, selecting a radio station, changing CDs, rifling through the smorgasbord-like satellite radio options, reaching for your coffee in the one of 9 coffee holders and lastly like the guy I was with recently – he was checking his email on his Droid. When I asked what he was doing he was a bit put off. “It’s not like I’m texting” he says. To which I replied, “put it down.”
First of all, I have made a pledge: no more calls while my car is moving with me behind the wheel. No more fast food drive through stop and go while I travel. The phone will remain holstered or elsewhere when I drive. (What the heck, nothing is that urgent. We have made everything urgent. Urgent has been redefined and watered down to a place I refuse to go any longer. If this bothers people I interact with, work for or communicate with they will adjust or be miserable.)
I am a ‘less government in my life’ kind of guy, however I am at a point where I believe we must ban all forms of distracted driving.
This could be you, your son or daughter, or grandkids. Watch
Be careful out there. You’re too important, even if you’re one of the knuckle heads I referenced above. And if you are ….