Friday, April 30, 2010

The Call Can Wait

National No Phone Zone Day is today. This movement, founded and promoted by Oprah Winfrey and Harpo Studios, seeks to illustrate the dangers of distracted driving. Texting, talking, or interacting with anything other than the steering wheel in your hands or the road in front of you is distracted driving.

In Illinois, where I live, there is already a full ban on texting while driving, and partial bans on using a cell phone at all - with or without a handsfree device.

I'm not going to preach at you. I'm not going to tell you how many times more likely you are to injure/kill yourself or others just by simply reaching for a phone (1.4). I'm not going to tell you that you're nearly 3 times more likely to kill yourself or another person just by simply glancing down for a moment to tap numbers or letters into your mobile device. I'm not going to tell you about the 5,870 people who were killed last year due to distracted driving. Nor will I tell you about the thousands more who were maimed, injured, disfigured, or otherwise harmed by someone's vital need to answer a text message.

I'm also not going to tell you that I'm a perfect person. While I have taken the No Phone Zone pledge, I still slip up. I have caught myself 2-3 times checking to see who an email was from or responding to a text at a stop light. But, today, I have renewed my vigor for this cause, and I hope that you Rioters join with me.

When I was 16 I was nearly killed in an accident involving a distracted driver. Somebody that was merely reaching for their phone, that pulled out in front of me on the highway. I had to swerve to miss this enormous purple van that had just appeared from nowhere. My car overcorrected, and it was literally launched into the air. I hit a tree halfway up the tree, and then my car wrapped itself between three trees. It ended up looking like someone had taken black aluminum foil and crinkled it up. By the grace of the Mother, I walked away with nothing but a seatbelt burn, where the belt stopped me from rocketing headfirst into a tree trunk.

Please, take the No Phone Zone pledge. Does signing this mean someone is holding a gun to your head, forcing you to stop using your phone in the car? Obviously not. (I don't think Oprah has that much money, but she might.) But, I hope that it will convict you about these behaviors. I'd really like to know exactly what someone could be texting you that is so important that it merits the loss of life or limb. What call could you be taking that is so vital to your continued breathing that you halt somebody else's?

Find a level of the pledge that works for you so that you can ease into it. Right now I'm on the no texting/handsfree calling level (#2). Hopefully, I can get all the way to level 3, but I need a way to ease in rather than going cold turkey.

Rioters, light your torches, grab your pitchforks, and stick those phones out of the way during your drive!

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

1 comment:

  1. You're preaching to the choir on this one, but I look back at the pushback that was received by laws requiring seatbelts, motorcycle helmets, and the like, and it's possible that this will be an uphill struggle. Many Americans, and particularly Americans who drive, appear to have the attitude that "This is a free country, dammit, and ain't no gummint gonna tell me what to blah blah blah. . ."

    I presume that you've seen the British PSA on texting while driving?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0LCmStIw9E

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