You’re driving along; the car in front of you swerves erratically, the driver apparently under the influence. As you pass, you glance over and shake your head. A look of self-righteous indignation crosses your face, but the driver has no clue of your disgust. You look more closely and see that the driver is obviously under the influence … of a smart phone!
Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen this.
Keep your hand up if you’ve seen other drivers eating a sandwich, fumbling with a hot cup of coffee, reading a newspaper, reaching for something, yelling at kids, applying makeup, shaving or changing clothes.
I recently saw a guy playing drums on his steering wheel. No, he wasn’t just tapping along to the music. There he was, drumsticks in hand, a drum pad taped to his steering wheel, pounding away while rocketing down the highway.
Are your hands still up? Good. Now put them down only if YOU’VE never done any of these things. Ah. There’s the rub. For all of the dirty looks and disgusted head shakes that we’ve given other drivers, most of us have been on the receiving end of those looks. We engage in the same behavior we so adamantly condemn.
When presenting this scenario to groups of people, I see sheepish grins and embarrassed smiles. As for the 30 percent who put their hands down? Many of you aren’t being honest. That’s right – a Virginia study showed as many as eight out of 10 crashes are connected to distracted driving.
We’ve seen the statistics. Auto-related accidents, injuries and deaths are all increasing due to distracted driving. So why the disconnect between what we know, what we disapprove of in others and what we actually do ourselves? What makes us – and I say us, because my grin is just as sheepish as the rest of you – think we are able to control a vehicle any better than others?
- Whose time is so valuable that 10 minutes can’t be spent in a parking lot eating that cheeseburger?
- What phone call is so important that it’s worth endangering the lives of those around us?
- What text absolutely must be read and responded to the second we receive it?
These are, of course, all rhetorical questions that we can’t answer for other drivers. However, we can eliminate the rhetorical aspect and actually begin answering them for ourselves.
- Yes, I can add 10 minutes to my drive by eating this sandwich in the parking lot.
- Yes, I can wait to answer that text.
- No, I don’t need to answer that phone call.
It takes individual efforts to solve this nationwide epidemic. Until we make that effort, those of us with the sheepish grins remain part of the problem.