Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Oprah did a show the other day on the dangers of talking on your cell phone while you drive and, even more dangerous, texting while you drive. She highlighted several stories of people being killed by someone texting or talking on their cell phone and also people texting who were responsible for killing someone else. There were three guests on her show who were quite convinced, as are we all, that they had conquered driving and texting and were perfectly capable of doing both with no trouble. All three of these guests were tested and all three of them failed miserably, much to their surprise. They were given a car and told to drive over a fairly simple course, first without their phone and then while texting. All three participants were visibly shaken by the results. Three down; several million more to go.
When I lived in Texas the majority of the roads upon which I drove were long, flat and empty. I could easily drive for an hour without ever passing another car. I admit it, I both texted and talked on the phone pretty constantly. I didn't think about it too much. If I got into trouble, at least I was only endangering myself. When I moved to southwestern Virginia, I moved out of AT&T land and had to give up my iPhone and go back to a flip phone. I have to say that texting on a regular phone is way too much trouble for me so I stopped. Talking on the phone is another story. I talk on my cell phone pretty much whenever I'm in my car. I have no cell service at my house so when I go to town I turn on the phone and call one of my sisters, or my son or one of my friends and basically talk the whole time I have a signal.
My younger sister calls me from the road all the time too. She calls when she's running errands and on her way to and from almost everywhere. She's got a lot of cell phone minutes and no discount long distance service on her landline so calling on her cell phone while she's out and about is our opportunity to be in touch.
One of the sound bites on the Oprah episode was, "It's not where your hands are, it's where your head is that matters", in reference to the relative safety of using a hands-free device with your cell phone. I've noticed this phenomenon myself. Even if I'm using my Bluetooth headset, I get involved in the conversation I'm having and, on occasion, zone out from my surroundings. I say, "Hang on just a minute", get myself refocused and then continue on with my conversation. Not so safe, I admit.
I'm pondering the No Phone Zone Challenge. No phone conversation is worth the clear risk involved in talking on the phone or texting while driving. The last few days I've not even turned my phone on while I've been in my car. I'm wondering about all the angles of this challenge. If I take it, by extension does that mean everyone with whom I talk are also taking it, at least as it applies to me? My sister leads an extremely busy life and her drive time is just about the only chat-time she has. If I'm home but she's driving and she calls, do I refuse to speak with her? Clearly neither one of us think chatting on the phone while driving is worth having a wreck, but just as clearly, neither one of us think that's going to happen. Does anyone think it's going to happen to them?
Oprah feels so strongly about this issue that she has banned her entire staff from using their cell phones, Blackberries and iPhones while driving. One of her staff members made an appearance on the show and talked about how difficult that has made things. One of her producers has to toss her Blackberry into the back seat of the car while she drives in order to fight the temptation to use it.
What do you think? Would you consider taking the No Phone Zone Challenge? If not, why not? We can all watch a television show and be moved by the message but does it really apply to our everyday lives? What do you think? I'm contemplating it.