Texting and driving

imagesThere are so many rules to driving on the road.  Do not drink and drive is the number one thing that parents say to kids when they first get behind the wheel.  MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) began in 1980 by Caroline Lightner whose 13 year old daughter was killed by a drunk driver.  They have been the forefront on educating the public about drunk driving.  Drunk driving has been cut in half since they began.  I am not a fan of the law that this group pushed through congress to move the drinking age to 21 from 18 as the long tail affects of that on college campuses have not been positive.  Yet I am a fan of sobriety checkpoints, breathalyzers and drunk driving laws.

Fast forward 30 years the landscape has changed.  People are educated on drunk driving.  There is now Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and others that has created access to hiring a driver to take you somewhere and home without ever having to get into a car after having a drink.

There is also texting.  I recently read a book called A Deadly Wandering, A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention.  An excellent book about a young man who killed two rocket scientists in Utah because he veered into the left lane when he was texting.  Every other chapter tells of the toll that accident took on him and the families of both men who were husbands and fathers in the car that he hit.  The other chapters are about the research that has been conducted for years on attention.  The effect of technology on the brain and the desire to get that text and read it.

So when our kids began to drive they already knew that they shouldn’t drink and drive.  What we drove home more than anything is don’t text and drive.  It only takes a millisecond of taking your eyes off the road and having an accident that could be tragic.

I have heard so many stories of texting tragedies on the road.  For what?  What was the importance of that message vs taking a human life or your own.  It couldn’t wait?  Maybe it is time that MADD think about adding on to their agenda.  They have educated the public in countless ways.  This issue could be worse.

Comments (Archived):

  1. leeschneider

    Never understood why phones have an Airplane mode but not a Driving mode. What does the average person do more? Drive or fly? Seems like a no brainer to build in a function that shuts down everything except maybe phone and maps, which must be controlled via voice . Go a step further and have the car sense the phone is near (bluetooth) and flip the switch automatically.

    1. Gotham Gal


    2. LE

      It would still require people to take an action which means they most likely wouldn’t remember to take that action.The better solution is simply to integrate this into the car. You enter the car and it tells the phone to shutoff anything but voice if the engine is running. But there could be a manual over ride as well (what happens if you give the phone for example to the person in the passenger seat?)

      1. Gotham Gal

        the technology is certainly available.

  2. Susan Rubinsky

    I heard a piece on NPR last year that texting AND even talking on the phone during driving is more dangerous than drunk driving. The same piece also highlighted that even talking on your phone using legal bluetooth technology reduces your driving awareness to less than the awareness of a drunk driver.Personally, I take this very seriously. When people call me from their cell phones, I ask them if they are driving. If they are, I politely tell them I’m hanging up and to call me back later when they are not driving.Also, I read somewhere (can’t recall where) that the number one predictor of whether a teen will text and drive is whether his parent does it.

    1. Gotham Gal

      like parents like child.

    2. LE

      AND even talking on the phone during driving is more dangerousWith respect to “phone”. That for sure has got to be an extreme exaggeration and hyperbole. Just looked at the basic facts. People talk on their cell phones in the car all the time. Many of them have bluetooth speakerphones (I do for example). If it were as “dangerous as drunk driving” we’d expect to see accidents all over the place all the time and we don’t.Plus there is this difference between drinking and using the phone. With using the phone you might miss doing an action that you need to do (ram into someone, not see something, etc.). With drinking, meaning you are drunk you are going to do a ton of more things wrong than just that. You don’t have any of your motor skills and/or judgement at all.

    3. Donna Brewington White

      Why the phone and not just talking in general? I am more distracted by other people in the car than by talking on the phone.Point well taken about the parent example.

  3. WA

    Continuous Partial Attention. Very bad.

  4. Emily Merkle

    I can barely drive, period. Put a phone in my hand and I’m toast. I just pull over if it’s that important.

  5. Tracey Jackson

    Very important topic as a you as a mom know…But we all have those moments. I don’t text and drive. I have been known to check my phone at a stop light and the kids yell at me. Which is good. They get it. I find even the hands free phone in the car is distracting. Too much of all it. Good blog.

    1. Gotham Gal

      It’s hard enough to let even the mind settle into one thing.

  6. William Mougayar

    So true….am guilty. I need to stop it.

    1. Gotham Gal

      It’s not worth it. Nothing is that important.

    2. pointsnfigures

      Yup. Me too.

    3. Donna Brewington White

      Me too. I’ve gotten much better and especially with my kids in the car. Well, especially since they are great at policing me. Also when they are in the car with me I know they are not the ones texting me and everyone else can wait. Even clients. 🙂

  7. pointsnfigures

    Saw a guy texting on a motorcycle once. Wow. As my policeman friend says, “inventory for the organ donation program”. (and I am guilty of texting and driving-I agree with your post and have stopped mostly. text at stoplights which is wrong too.) Should be an easy way for Siri to automatically read texts and a way for you to talk to text via bluetooth. People are shifting a lot from phone conversations to text because of time.

  8. Donna Brewington White

    Thank you, GG.