So this is what happened to me the other day. I was driving down Mahan Drive and slowed down to make a left-hand turn. A car comes up behind me, speeds up to pass me on my left, swerves to miss an oncoming car and careens across two lanes of traffic, hits the curb and comes to a stop. I pulled over to see if everyone was okay. A woman and her middle school daughter were shook up but seemed to be fine. I was sympathetic for a brief moment…then I saw the cell phones in their hands. I didn’t, but I wanted to say “What were you thinking?!! Were you paying any attention to what you were doing?! Pay attention lady and get off that phone!”
There is phrase for this common form of V.A.D.D (vehicular attention deficit disorder): It’s called “distracted driving” which makes it sound like just a petty annoyance or a harmless habit. However this kind of stupid, dangerous driving is more and more common on our roads today. Have you noticed? Look around you when you’re at a stop light and notice how many drivers are looking down to send or read a text, or have the phone up to their ear blabbing away.
Yes, I too am guilty. Most of us are these days as we drive along. We just can’t seem to let go of our cell phones in the car even for a moment. We drive cars now that contribute to that distraction. My Hyundai Sonata has bluetooth that can send and receive phone calls and texts, although most of the time all I do is yell at my dashboard. This would be funny if it weren’t so deadly.
According to a website that tracks such sobering statistics, I read that in 2013 distracted driving killed 3,154 people in the U.S, and injured another 424,000. At any given moment 660,000 drivers are driving distracted. Five seconds with your head down reading that text or email or Facebook and, at 55 miles per hour, you’ve traveled the length of a football field without paying any attention.
We all love our phones. (In fact, I’m anxiously waiting for my new IPhone 6s Plus!). They are convenient and fun and satisfy our need for stimulation. They connect us instantly and most of us can’t imagine life without them anymore. Yet this addiction to screen time is killing our ability to pay attention. Not just behind the wheel but in the rest of life as well. There was a study back in May of 2015 by the Microsoft Corporation that found that we wired human beings have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. (Who DOES these studies…and WHY??) Anyway, they found that we wired homo sapiens pay attention for just eight seconds on average while our finned friends clock in at nine seconds.
So before you pick up your phone to check your email or send a text or answer a call while flying down the road, imagine this: Your split second addiction to staying connected could kill someone or injure yourself or a loved one or friend for life. It could kill you in a heartbeat. Is it really worth that risk?
So please. When you are behind the wheel just pay attention!
Sorry for the rant but that’s what’s on the rev’s mind today.
You are loved,