I don’t see a lot of the initiative anymore, but there was a while there, at least a couple of years ago or so, where there seemed to be a concerted effort to get people to stop using their phones while they were driving. I saw commercials all the time, and hashtags all over social network.
I’m not saying that the movement has stopped entirely. At least, I hope it hasn’t. Just that I don’t see a lot of the material anymore. For what felt like a really long time I was seeing “#itcanwait” all over the place, but not so much anymore.
I did see a sticker that said the same thing once, though, on the back of a car. That should count for extra points.
Not texting and driving is one of those situations that I feel should be a no-brainer. But you and I both know it isn’t. Any time I go out I see someone on their phone. It happens a lot when people are stopped, waiting for a light to change or something, but I see it enough when cars are in motion that it’s genuinely disheartening.
I’m not going to tell you that I’ve never done it, because that would be deliberately untruthful. Over the years, a notification has typically been enough to grab my attention and I’ve taken a look while driving. But I was young then. Young and stupid. And as I’ve grown older, I have realized that it’s just not worth it. Whatever’s there on the phone will still be there whenever I get to where I’m going. And if I think it might be important, there is usually a way to find somewhere to park and check.
Ignoring my phone while I’m in the car has gotten easier thanks to a a couple of different things. First, I just keep it in my pocket. Out of sight is out of mind, especially hen it’s paired with the second thing: Do Not Disturb While Driving, one of the newer features Apple introduced into iOS. It turns on when I start driving (as the phone’s connected via Bluetooth), and at that point no alerts or notifications will show up or make a sound while I’m driving.
Calls still come through, though.
Keeping the phone out of sight and the notifications disabled helps a great deal.
But, even then, I think it goes beyond those things. I don’t agree with folks who want to use their phone at any point in time if they are behind the wheel of their vehicle. We can get sucked into whatever we’re looking at, which means we can be quick to react to something that catches our attention in the periphery. That can lead to some stupid mistakes.
I bring all of this up because I had an accident today (the day I’m writing this). It was minor and I’m fine, as is the driver of the other vehicle. Cars are fine, too. But the 20-something kid was on his phone, stopped behind me, while we were waiting for a red light to change. Meanwhile, the lanes on his left were turn lanes, and they were allowed to go first.
So he was on his phone, looking at whatever he was looking at (I caught sight of him in my rearview mirror just a few moments before the accident), and then when the cars on his left started going he thought his lane was moving, too. He hit the gas and ran right into me.
When we pulled over and had the obligatory chat, he told me that he was sorry, that he was in a hurry because he was late for work, and he saw the cars moving so he went for it. He didn’t bring up the phone. Before we parted ways, I told him that he should probably keep his phone in his pocket. He looked embarrassed, which I can understand, and then said he would.
He immediately ran a red light to turn right back onto the street we were on, so I just assume he won’t heed my advice.
Consider this my public service announcement. A plea, even. Please don’t use your phone while you’re behind the wheel of your car. Not even when you’re stopped at a light. It’s not just your life that could be changed forever because you were distracted, but anyone around you in that moment. It’s not worth it, and, yeah, it can wait. So, please. Wait.