Thursday, August 7, 2014

Must Read: Texting/Driving True Story from USA Today Writer


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We often hear of accidents involving distracted drivers. Some are teens causing the accidents and some are not.

Face it, distracted driving is just that:  a human's brain, distracted from it's task of driving, to do something else other than looking at the road.

Whether it's to tune the radio, take a sip of coffee, a noise from the kids in the back seat, or unfortunately, in this case, a cell phone, we are human and all have the ability to lose focus- or redirect our attention elsewhere.

We have a choice, but it takes will power, preparation, and a habit of saying NO.

This true story of USA Today writer, John Siniff, is a clear look at both sides of a distracted driving accident-with the best outcome possible-no one was killed.

Texting and driving is dangerous. 

So is paying attention to anything (or anyone) else in the vehicle.

I have more than once, during a conversation with my teen, quickly looked over into the passenger seat at her, and forgotten to stay focused forward---only to look back at the road and realize a sea of red brake lights ahead of me...

It can happen anytime, to anyone, for any reason. It's not just teens, young drivers. It's not just heavy texters and cellphone chit-chatters. It's all of us. Because we are human our brains can't help but look away. We can't help but turn our eyes to something we hear, or want to see; something else aside from what we are doing. 

We are a distracted society now and the mundane/auto pilot task of driving is boring us...

Let this lesson be one that teaches. 

Because even as I read it, I thought, 'even his wife texted him while he was in between places…and before he headed back out onto the road'. A lot of us think that we should text others from home to wish them safe travels… I have many friends who know when I'm traveling and when I'm not, and they do not text me at all unless they know I will be where I am for a while- or unless I text them to let them know I am stationary. It's too tempting to want to reply, so it's best not to text travelers at all.

Here are some ways to keep yourself focused on the road:

Think of the other guy- if we stay focused, and they don't, we could avoid the potential head on collision which could occur because two drivers headed in opposite directions are both distracted causing them both to veer over the double yellows even a tiny bit (just enough to cause a crash)

Think of the author of this column's child (or your own if you are traveling with yours)

Think about the importance of the message (texts, face it, aren't usually that important). Even if you get home and missed a text message from your spouse asking you to grab milk on the way- Would you arrive without milk, or not arrive at all?

Put the phone on silent! Can't be distracted if you can't hear it.

Gotta Charge? Put it on silent and in the console or out of reach and on SILENT!

Turn up the radio- to avoid hearing the phone if you must have it on

Get used to being without your phone (break the addictive habit of checking it a thousand times a day and it will be easier to sit still and drive when you are in the car)

Finish conversations in person and don't start one on your way out of work, the store, at the stoplight or at the gas station… this way you won't be tempted to finish it in a few minutes (when someone finally gets back to you when it's convenient and then you are already back on the road again).

Ask others not to text you while you are traveling 

If they do…don't worry about being a nice guy and texting back "Thnx"- just get there safe.

That's all the thanks they need.


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