Thursday, January 21, 2010

I Agree with Oprah...what???

So, if I asked you if you would drive with a blood alcohol level of .08 (legally drunk), I would hope that you would twist your face into a look of confusion and slight disdain and say "Of course not! Duh!"...and if I refused to let the awkward conversation die, and asked you if you would drive with a BAL of .16 (twice the legal limit), I would hope that you would shake your head at me and say "What are you talking about???  No!"  It's ingrained in our brains that this is a dangerous practice, and responsible people take every action possible to avoid getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.

Now I ask you...Do you talk on your cell phone while you drive?  Do you text while you drive?  Are your kids with you?

Miss Winfrey's show is on at 4:00 'round these here parts.  Strangely, that's the exact same time here that everyone under the age of 7 loses their mind.  Joe gets home from school, thinks he is withering from starvation and  has to do his homework.  Bella has to try to poke him or yank his t-shirt or interrupt him and Trey has to be unhappy with every toy ever invented and all of a sudden hate every snack in the house.  Not a good time to sit back and watch T.V.  Plus, kids can magically hear everything on the T.V. even if they're not looking directly at it.  So, I personally don't want to explain "Sex After 50" or "Why Men Cheat" or "The Secret" or "Mothers Behind Bars" or "Gail is Not My Girlfriend" to the kiddos. 

However, Oprah's show on Monday was all about the dangers of using a cell phone while driving, so I DVR'd it and watched it later that night.  I regularly talk on my cell phone when I'm driving.  Not a ton, but for example, when I drop Joe off at school and head to the gym, I'll call Jay.  Then I'll call him again on the way home from the gym.  I don't call to chat with people while I'm driving, but I will answer the phone if someone calls me.  I am literally incapable of texting while I drive, believe me I've tried.  I have to be looking at the touch pad of the phone to be able to form words...and sometimes I'm convinced the T9 hates me. 

Anywho...the first half of Oprah's show featured horrifying stories of family members having been killed in car accidents caused by someone being distracted by their cell phone.  Oprah really went for the jugular on this one by starting with a mom and dad who's 9 year old daughter was riding her bike home and an SUV hit her head on.  All the woman driving could say was that she never even saw the little girl because she was distracted by her phone conversation.  At this point Jay looked over his computer at me and asked if I was trying to give myself nightmares.  The second half of the show was about the research that has gone into "Distracted Driving".  

Talking on a cell phone while driving is EQUIVALENT to driving with a BAL of .08!

Texting while driving is the EQUIVALENT of driving with a BAL of .16!!!

Seriously???  Aren't we a society of multi-taskers?  Aren't we constantly doing more than one thing at a time?  Apparently our brains are simply NOT capable of doing these two things (using a cell phone and driving) at the same time.  There is so much information that your brain needs to process for only one of these tasks that it cannot possibly do both.  Huh.  That pretty much changed my outlook on the whole topic.  I'll be okay not using my phone in the van. 

I then got this bee in  my bonnet about Pennsylvania having zero laws about cell phone use while driving.  Zero!  Does this state care nothing about us?  How does one make a law?  Who do I write to?  Legislature?  Local or state?  I need my Schoolhouse Rocks!!!  I asked Jay about it and we had a very educational (for me, at least) conversation.  Jay is a big fan of very little government intervention.  If PA creates a law banning all cell phone use, will the next step be no radio in the car?  No passengers?  Where is the line between eliminating danger and trusting people to be responsible?  Don't get me wrong.  Jay is more than open to the idea that cell phone use while driving is dangerous and not worth the risk.  However, he would like to see more studies than just the one that was featured on Oprah.  Further, he sees things in more colors than I do.  I like things to be black and white...right and wrong.  If there's a law against it, people won't do it.  Right?  Hmmm....there are plenty of severe laws against drug use, production of drugs, selling of drugs...but that doesn't stop some people from abusing, making or selling drugs.  The posted speed limit is a law, but that doesn't stop every person from speeding.  I'm starting to see his point...but, still!  Aren't the laws supposed to protect us?  Sure, but it takes a responsible person to apply the law.  Even if cell phone use was banned, some people would still think that they were the exception to the rule and able to handle talking and driving.  Ugh!  Turns out, Jay is right about a lot of stuff.

So, what's the solution?  Awareness (and maybe a law)!!!  Spread the word (and maybe a citation or two)!!!  I didn't know how dangerous talking and driving was until I saw the research on Oprah.  For once, Oprah and I agree!  I haven't talked on my cell phone while driving since watching the show.  Everyone has excuses about why they need to call someone while driving, but really?  What did we all do before cell phones?  We took care of our business before we were in the car or waited until we got where we were going.  That seemed to have worked for a several decades...

Will you stop talking on you cell phone while driving?


Hannah said...

Well I don't have anything quite as exciting as your friend Julie to talk about, but I thought I'd speak to your blog. I'm a horrible hypocrite! I freak out everytime Ryan picks up his phone while he's driving, although not as much if someone is calling, more when he starts flipping through it to read an email. But I admit I'm guilty of it too. And I saw part of Oprah's show - I'm definitely not doing it anymore!! I'm keeping my bluetooth in the car from now on when people call, only when people call me - I call people in the car too much, not gunna do that anymore. And definitely NO MORE texting or email! I hate when I do it anyway - I've had close calls with people stopping in front of me, etc. Anyway, I'm with ya!! And I'm spreading the word... atleast to the rest of this house!

Happy said...

I know I'm guilty of talking and driving. I'll make a conscious effort to stop, though. Or to at least pull over if I must make a necessary (not just shooting the bull with someone) call.

I'll let you know how I do. :-)

Crafty P said...

Yes. Vin and o made a promise not to txt and drive but weay need to renew that one Were you spammed?

melodyofamom said...

I have never heard those statistics, but I wouldn't be surprised. Driving while talking on the cell has been made illegal in California (no surprise there though, this is Cali we're talking about).

I only use speakerphone while driving.

Rachel Elizabeth said...

They did a segment about this on Mythbusters and its totally true. They actually did it with a car on a course and had them drink to a the illegal limit and take the course. Then sober they did the course while talking on their cellphones. Scary stuff. Its illegal to text or tall on your cell phone in California so I do neither.