Why I Won’t Text and Drive

09/09/2010 By Shawn Burns

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.