Why I Won’t Text and Drive

Texting and driving is apparently illegal in California.

Who cares?

It’s easy to get away with it. Wear sunglasses, keep the phone in your lap, glance down with your eyeballs instead of your head, text by touch alone.

I am very very good at it. I’m also good at driving with one knee and finding lost toys under the passenger seat to placate the sobbing three year old.

So many of my morning Twitter updates are from the road. Thoughts occur to me on the road, probably more than anywhere else, and what is Twitter if not a place to post your immediate thoughts. I don’t save Tweets for later. That’s stupid.

And if you’re a good driver then texting while you drive isn’t any more dangerous than playing the radio really loudly while driving. Is it? I mean, you’re a good driver, so you don’t get into accidents that are your fault whether you’re texting or not, right? That’s zero accidents out of all accidents. Your record is perfect, so why think that you need to stop texting while you drive?

Why think that I need to? I’m really, really, really good. I don’t want to sound arrogant about this but I have awesome reflexes and a brain trained to multitask and the foresight to see what traffic patterns are emerging miles down the road. Why shouldn’t I just try to get away with it?

I was driving the kids to school this morning and for once, self-consciously, I wasn’t holding my Blackberry in my hand waiting for a thought to pop into my head so I could share it with the world. I went under an overpass, into a dip, in the left hand lane of my side of the road and as I began the ascent on the far side of the overpass I saw a car coming the other way, driving in its left hand lane.

There was nothing unusual about this.

I’m a good driver, so had I been texting at the time there would have been no need for alarm. I was in my lane, and the other driver was in his lane. I could have been driving with my knee, going up the hill and curving slightly and everything still would have been fine.

But just before we passed each other, for some reason that I still don’t understand, the other driver jerked his wheel and careened into my lane.

I’m a good driver. I have great reflexes. I screamed around him in a fast swerve, so quickly that I barely had time to express a muffled “shit!” before it was over.

It was a fast road, and we were both going between 35 and 40 miles per hour. A head-on collision would have done neither of us any favours. And I don’t want to imagine what would have happened to the kids in the back.

I’m a good driver. No, I’m a great driver, as far as these video-game style measurements are concerned.

But what made me the perfect driver today, in that moment, was the fact that I had my wife’s voice in my ear saying “Don’t text and drive; definitely not with the kids in the car.” And so I’d holstered the phone.

I’m a good driver. I’m going to be better.

17 thoughts on “Why I Won’t Text and Drive”

  1. You do know I read all your posts, don't you?
    And you also maybe know a "distracted driver" ran a stop sign he "didn't see," t-boning my car 4 years ago? He was a "good driver" and yet, I've gone thru 6 surgeries, lost most of the use of my right dominant arm and am facing two more surgeries in the near future. I will be disabled and living with high levels of chronic pain for life. He thought he was "really, really good" at multitasking too.

  2. Holy shitballs! Thank goodness everyone is OK.

    Thanks for the reminder. I tend to have the phone near me to sneak peeks at the stop light. I'm going to stop that now.

  3. It's a good reminder to not *&^% and drive. (Feel free to insert any verb in there you feel like.) What used to bug me the most was seeing other drivers putting on makeup while driving. You know how impossible it is for a driver to actually drive well while applying mascara, looking in the rearview mirror? Really, really hard.

  4. Dude you better hope your agent isn't a reader of Backpacking Dad because they would totally hike up your rates for admitting you text while driving annnd possibly deny any claim you have because of it. Why do you think you sign waivers now saying you wear a seatbelt. So the companies can come back and say screw you sucker you didn't wear your belt when you checked that you do…

    Just messing with you…..but it could totally happen.

  5. I can't even breathe and text at the same time, so there's no way I'd ever have a problem with texting and driving.

  6. Yay for lightening fast reflexes and good driving skills. Too bad it is the driving skills of everyone else you have to watch out for. I'm glad nothing happened.

  7. I'm glad you were completely alert so I didn't have to read this post from a different perspective (in a hospital bed).
    My brother's neighbor was killed in a car accident because the other driver was texting while driving and barely drifted into his oncoming lane. Very sad. I promised myself I would never text and drive again. Although I haven't been very good about keeping that promise :-/ Its time to re-commit I think.

  8. Sometimes lurker, first time commenter.

    I am glad that you had a wake up call and did not involve an injury!

    I have started putting my phone in the back seat to eliminate the temptation. I would fire a babysitter who texted while driving so have started to respect my children enough to follow the same standards.

    All the best, C

  9. Yeah. I have no where near those reflexes, so thanks, I don't text, but I will put my phone away.

  10. Oh, man, oh man. You are so right. That's the problem. Accidents take about 1.764 seconds to happen, right? How long does it take ot read a text? How long does it take to respond to a text? That's a lot of road with potential accidents. Great post. Thank you for the reminder. I think I will follow suit.

    I told a coworker the other day that he drove like someone who had never been in an accident. He didn't get it. Hopefully he'll never have to.


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