Six months later, I am still someone who is often over-booking, multitasking, and running late. And not so shockingly, putting my phone away in the car has not helped that.
What is shocking, however, is that I don’t care.
What I had been texting at a stop light or calling for on the commute home can wait with very little, if any, negative repercussions. It’s nice to be able to focus on the road, the radio, and my own thoughts, knowing that I am not risking my own safety or the safety of those around me…most of the time.
Distracted driving free?
I would love to say that now I put my phone away and never think about it again. In fact, the opposite is true.
I do put the phone where I can’t reach, knowing I’m not always strong enough to not respond to that text alert or at least check out the picture I was tagged in. (What if I look ridiculous in it?)
But even with it just out of reach, there are new temptations to distracted driving that I wasn’t expecting when I made the abrupt (albeit smart) decision to quit cold turkey.
- Dead stop traffic. You know those very snowy days we have in upstate New York where it takes two hours to get to work? Well the roads may be bad, but knowing that you are basically in park bored to death while your workday escapes you makes that even less fun. I never expected to want to do e-mail from my phone more during bad conditions.
- Justin Timberlake. While I’m not trying to name names, isn’t it always when you are already on the road when you realize how much you want to hear that new song you downloaded on your phone? Changing the music while driving for the ultimate driving ambiance has always been crucial to my commute. I didn’t realize I’d have to quit texting and sporadically rocking out in one fell swoop.
- Friends. While they do know that I’ve made a point to stop texting while driving, and that I’ve become a bit of a bully to encourage them to do the same, they still reach out with quick, arguably important, questions like “what are you doing later?” and “want me to bring wine?”
Thinking ahead solves two of the three curve balls above- bringing coffee for the long car ride and hitting “play” ahead of pulling out of the driveway certainly helps.
But the third one is can be trickier.
Yeah, you’re that distracting
It can be very hard, and very important, to hold the conversation for a few minutes, but treat others as you’d like to be treated. I’ve begun to avoid calling or texting friends and family when I am pretty sure they are behind the wheel. I ask that they do the same. It’s easier to make smart decisions when there is no temptation otherwise.
This is the strength of the Yeah, You’re That Distracting campaign launched last fall by the Ad Council of Rochester. As it states on the campaign website, “every time you call or text a driver, you take their attention off the road, contributing to the thousands of traffic accidents and deaths caused by distracted driving every year.”
It’s time for that to change, one former distracted driver at a time. If you’re willing to make a change, take the pledge today.