This week, Oprah had a moving op-ed piece in the New York Times about the danger of driving while using a cell phone. Whether you’re holding it or using a headset, talking or texting, there’s mounting evidence that using your phone in your car is just about as dangerous as driving drunk.
Most of us would never dream of getting behind the wheel after a few martinis, but we blithely pick up our phones while driving.
A few weeks ago, a friend posted about this problem to her blog. I was shocked by the number of parents who weighed in to say what I have always felt: my kids distract me, too.
Trying to talk to my kid in the backseat feels dangerous to me for the same reason talking on the phone does. I’m moving the focus of my attention away from the road in front of me. My eyes are still facing the street, and my hands are on the wheel. But my brain is somewhere else.
It’s also a problem because kids, at least young ones, are clueless about what’s happening on the road ahead. If my husband and I are talking in the front seat and a bike swerves in front of us, we both react. the person at the other end of a phone call can’t, because he didn’t see what you saw.
Similarly, my kid in the backseat has no clue about traffic patterns or dangers, and is not going to let up on her incessant game of 20 questions while I navigate some sticky traffic.
There’s been a lot of resistance to the notion that cell phones cause dangerous distractions in my circle of otherwise educated, progressive friends. No one wants to give up their chatting while driving habit.
It’s easy for me to believe the science on this one, though, because talking on the phone is so much like talking to the kids. I know they’re both distracting for me. And while I’m not a saint in this regard, I do have a firm “No Talking To Mommy” rule when I’m driving, as well as a rock-solid “no texting while driving” rule and “no phone calls while driving” rule. That last one is more like a guideline, really.
Have you given up using a cell phone while driving yet? What would it take to change your habits? Do you find your kids as distracting as your phone, or do they not push your buttons?
Photo: Jason Weaver
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