How Can I “Take the Pledge” (to not use a cell phone while driving) when I need to make business calls?
Someone wrote to me: “In all honesty, a friend asked me to take the pledge on your Jaffarian Facebook page, but how can I when I have so much to do, and so little time? My company gave me a Blackberry and I have a personal cell phone. I get business calls and family calls. I know I even swerve sometimes when dialing a number, looking for a number or reading a text. I can’t possibly sign that pledge.”
In honor of National Distracted Driver Awareness Month, I challenged readers to “Take the Pledge” on our Facebook page and I’ll donate $1 to FocusDriven, a nonprofit organization that promotes driving without talking on a cell. But I ask you— has technology gone too far? When do we say “enough is enough”?
I hope you’ve all seen those national public service ads on television where a young girl driving in the car with her friends, laughs about something she just read on a text, then crashes. The state trooper comes on and says he wishes he stopped her before she lost her life. Dramatic, yes — but accurate. Most of these ads focus on teens, but it is not a teenage problem. While teens and young adults tend to text more than adults, adults are constantly on cell phones and using other devices.
The world we lived in has become a mobile technology society. Not only do you use our (not so) smart phones to talk and text, but these phones alert us when an email or text has come in, causing more distractions. You can do a web search, check your calendar—it’s your personal digital assistant. You download apps from your bank, the stock market, favorite stores, music, movies – everything can go with you in one little hand-held device that becomes the biggest distraction of your life. It begs – it tempts – for you to take your eyes off the road.
Some people use blue-tooth technology or drive vehicles that enable hands-free talking with controls on the steering wheel, you are still more likely to cause an accident than not using technology at all. All technology and conversations are distractions. There is actually technology now that allows parents to control cell phone usage while a vehicle is in motion. Hands-free car kits are available from high-technology companies and through OnStar.
Along with smart phones, there are tablets, notebooks and e-readers. Parents play movies to keep their children occupied while driving. All of this technology is wonderful – but not while we’re driving. Our eyes need to be focused on the road. All of this technology is exciting and helps us stay organized and promotes multi-tasking – but not while we’re driving.
Every conversation, every email, every text takes our focus off the road. What price are we prepared to pay for technology, when it’s costing lives? If it were up to me (and I imagine most people are glad it isn’t), I would support no cell phone usage while driving.
Are you ready to take the Pledge? Please drive safely.