Thieving Thursday: Texting and Driving

>> Thursday, August 27, 2009

The other day, I saw this video on Lola's Diner. Now, I only watch a small number of the videos that come my way. They just don't interest me, but I decided to watch this one and my husband, how never watches videos with me, sat down next to me to watch it, too. Chilling.

Just because I know it was staged (as most people don't have high speed cameras in their car capable of capturing this video), it didn't change the impact because I knew this happens. Not the gore (though it's pretty graphic, pretty disturbing), but the little girl crying in the back seat for her parents in the front seat to wake up. Or the baby with blue eyes staring while we hear people saying, "He's unresponsive." That image stayed with me for hours and made going to sleep very difficult.


Because this is something I can't prevent (unless I'm willing to stay housebound for the rest of my existence), even if I never text or use a cellphone in the car, never drink and drive, never drive when I'm too sleepy. Even driving with the utmost care, I'm at the mercy of everyone else on the road and so are the people in my car with me.

See, at least in my own mind, I make a distinction between (a) self-destructive behavior that kills/injures only you (like obesity or failing to wear your seatbelt) and (b) self-destructive behavior that can affect others, like smoking around nonsmokers or children and, to a larger degree, doing something stupid behind the wheel. A car is a useful tool for getting from one place to another, but it's also a big heavy weapon that can do an amazing amount of devastation.

The bogeyman is texting and driving and it's worthwhile to try to nip this in the bud and make this out of style sooner rather than later. The problem with a bogeyman is that people often get complacent about the other stupid stuff: sure, I had a few martinis, but I know better than to text on my way home. The problem is that driving while impaired, texting while driving, driving when you're two tired - people aren't objective about their ability to do any of these things. With alcohol and exhaustion, one of the first things to go is judgment, so you are the one least likely to be able to tell when you really shouldn't be driving. With texting, it's just dangerous to have your eyes and hands busy somewhere beyond the road, beyond the wheel.

People die. I personally know three people (at least) who have lost someone important to them to drunk drivers: my coworker who lost his fiance two weeks before they got married, my English teacher (who was also my best friend in high school) who lost his only daughter - leaving his grandchildren motherless, and another coworker who lost his four year old daughter playing in her own front yard.

If you have teenagers who drive, make them watch the video. My daughter is smart to know about alcohol and driving. She's a pain in the butt to my friends at parties if she thinks they've had too much to drink (I'm so proud). I think this will mean something to her and encourage her to not only hold off on texting but perhaps encourage her friends to do the same.

Some people think it can never happen to them. Even if they never do drive carelessly, they're wrong. Some people take offense at anyone telling them their limitations. Do they think they can live with taking someone's life through carelessness?

Their victims can't.


  • Doctor Faustroll

    You know I have no commonly held opinions, so mine is that crap like this is designed to get idiots, who make up approximately 60% of the NOMF™ (I think Pareto is a little overrated) to help fuel support for the prison industrial complex which is eating up 30% of the funds we are spending on ordnance.

    I have nothing against using cops for target practice, but these videos are worse than cynical. They are designed to give more police power to increasingly invade areas that should be private.

    My wife got nailed for a seal-belt violation a couple of years ago that cost $500 and boosted our insurance rates. The belts hurt her tits. So I had to kill the cop and his family to get even after an online bet. Is that what we're looking for as a solution to irresponsible behavior that has hurt no one? What about punishing assholes who actually are fuckups?

    This is the reason I don't own firearms and concentrate on personal thermonuclear devices. I think everyone needs to feel the burn.

    Just kidding. Or not.

    People die stupidly every day, and most of them die as the result of bombing runs on suspected terrorist hideouts in places where people are not texting while they drive.

    Get a grip.

  • The Mother

    Reminds me of the "Blood on the Highway" movies they showed when I was in high school.

    I got my education in forensics lectures in my residency. Lady decapitated when she ran into a stalled truck at 70 mph--they figured out what happened when they noticed she had makeup on one eye and not on the other. Mascara was found on highway about 50 yards back.

    Never do ANYTHING and drive. Period.

  • dihan

    nice blog,have a nice day

  • Jeff King

    I could not agree more Steph...

  • Stephanie B

    Dr. Faustroll, that there are other readily preventable deaths does not negate the need to protect against these.

    Every unnecessary death is one too many.

  • Roy

    That was tough to watch. I've seen enough almost run-ins caused by drivers on cell phones, and as a pedestrian I've almost been hit several times while crossing in a cross-walk by drivers doing things other than concentrating on driving. Not to mention that the fatal train crash in Boston earlier this year was caused by an engine driver texting when he should have been driving.

  • WillOaks Studio

    I found that video very disturbing, too. Yes, it was staged but there was something terribly realistic about it and it left me quite shaken. Point taken, however--I don't talk on the phone or text or anything while driving...but as I look around, so many fellow drivers who will be the next accidental victim?

  • Mike

    Why are people so addicted to the telephone? I watch my colleagues leave work at the end of the day, after being on the phones all day talking to customers. First thing they do - grab there cell phone and start jabbering away or texting. Some of them are on the phone and trying to drive, they will run you over if you are not watching, as they are not watching. I don't jump when ever the telephone rings - if I am busy doing something - especially driving and the phone rings - let it ring, I got voice mail and I will get to it when I have the opportunity.

  • Relax Max

    I guess the main point is not trying so much to save the lives of idiot drivers of all kinds, but of trying to protect yourself from them. There are so many of them it is amazing there aren’t even more deaths. I don’t think there is much you can do to protect yourself from someone coming toward you who suddenly swerves over into your lane 25 feet in front of you. You and your family are going to be killed, and the drunk or texter who hit you head-on is probably not going to be killed. So, unless you allow the police and courts to drag them out of their cars and lock them up where they can no longer be a threat to you, even if that means being insensitive to their “civil right” to be irresponsible and kill you, this is going to continue and you are just rolling the dice every time you get into your car. On second thought, forget the cops and the courts. What was I thinking? That’s much too costly, slow, and ineffective. I saw in our local small town paper today that a guy was just arrested on his 22nd DWI. Obviously, taking away their licence and making them go watch blood movies at DWI school 22 times doesn’t work. So the next time you see someone driving with a phone in their ear, I recommend you shoot them behind that ear at the next stoplight. That doesn’t solve the drunk problem though. So get a list of their names and addresses in the court blotter section of your newspaper and go to their house and blow their heads off. Fair enough? These are two affirmative actions you can take to protect yourself on the road that will really improve your odds of survival while driving. Of course, Texas would probably not like it and just kill YOU for trying to make the roads permanently safer. What can you do?

  • Stephanie B

    Relax Max, I have a teenage daughter. I can do what I can so she isn't part of the problem. She can offer to text or talk for her friends while they're driving and they won't be part of the problem.

    If people become committed to not being part of the problem, it can make a difference. I believe that, but then, I'm a dreamer.

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