I glanced to my left. The woman in the next car was combing her hair and applying lipstick, eyeliner, and mascara—all while maneuvering in and out of traffic. Thank heaven she’d taken her shower before she left home.
Another time, I actually saw a man putting in contact lenses as he careened down the freeway at sixty-five miles per hour. One tap on the brakes and those contacts would have been firmly imbedded somewhere near his brain stem. It might have given him the ability to read his own mind, but the pain wouldn’t have been worth it.
I’ve seen people text, read books, shave, and even groom their pets as they rocket down the freeway. Remember when driving was a full-time job? Whatever happened to both hands on the steering wheel, with one at ten o’clock and one at two? Some studies show that you are more likely to have an accident while texting than while driving drunk. It makes you wonder about odds for drunks who are texting. Imagine the odds of an accident for contact lense-changers and makeup-appliers.
Not too long ago, driving was a relaxing pastime. But it did demand that you pay attention. Oh, occasionally you’d see someone singing along with the radio, tapping the steering wheel, head bobbing like one of those back-window pooches. And yes, once in a while you’d see some disgusting (my wife insisted I use that adjective) person driving with their finger in their ear or nose tending to those little personal hygiene items. But you never saw people doing laundry or surfing the Internet.
Try something for me. On second thought, try it for yourself. Tonight, after the traffic subsides, take a drive. Get away from the city if you can, but this will work even downtown. Leave your books, razors, phones and internet devices at home.
Take no makeup. Leave the radio off and look around you as you drive. You’ll notice buildings you never knew were there—they built them while you were talking on the phone. You’ll see people you didn’t know inhabited the planet. And pay very close attention: You may feel the pulse of a city slowing just a little. You might catch a glimpse of the soft quilt of evening beginning to blanket a quiet countryside.
Don’t expect some great adventure; just relax and see things. I guarantee you’ll feel more alive. Now transfer that experience to life in general.
We’ve allowed technology to steal too much of the simple beauty of living. We conduct business and multi-task during every waking moment of the day. Before you go to bed tonight, look carefully at the people you love. Consider the world you live in. Make a vow to open the window, slow down, and enjoy the ride. It might even keep you alive.
What have you seen? How do you avoid distracted driving?
In spite of the humor used in this post, distracted driving kills. I watched a woman pass me while texting. She was still texting when she hit a telephone pole. Drive safely dear friends so that you can lighten up and live another day.
Very timely message Ken. My mother died on a bright sunny summer morning nine months ago because a kind young man was distracted and missed a stop light. It ended her life and changed his forever. I was in an accident one year before that which left me crippled with PTSD from another young man who intentionally drove through a stop sign – he was going 40 when I hit him doing 55mph on a thruway. One minute of not paying attention can change your life in a heartbeat – that heartbeat may be your own.
Beth, I try to drill this into my children and grandchildren all the time.
Beth, I am so sorry for your loss! My biggest fear as I cycle is of texting drivers. I saw a guy on a motorcycle texting the other day. People are crazy! Blessings! and thank you for sharing your story. Ken
I’ve driven on the Long Island expressway for years before I moved up here and that seemed like a magnet for everyone doing anything but paying attention. The worst thing I saw was a man reading the daily newspaper and turning pages, while drinking coffee and eating a bagel but not looking at the road! True the LIE is often a parking lot but still, look up fella!
I now have a weekend trip to visit my beloved that runs about an hour away now that I live in Syracuse. The drive is lovely and I often turn off the radio and just enjoy the ride. But you’d be amazed at what people are doing…lol… not that I’m watching instead of driving
Now you have me wondering.
texting, use of the phone without a handsfree device, even eating or drinking while driving is all illegal in Australia, and in my part (Brisbane) the police love to enforce these rules, pulling over anyone they see without two hands on the wheel.
it seems a little vindictive sometimes, but the merit for public safety is worth it i think.
We were warned of this when we toured Australia
Great blog post Ken. The evidence is clear about texting and other distractions while driving. I wrote a blog post last year about it. https://www.trafficguygary.com/driven-to-distraction
How do I avoid distracted driving? Simple…I don’t do it. Keep up the great work. Loving the Monday videos.