Let’s all report drivers who text
Up for a moment, back toward their lap.
Up down. Up down.
In rush hour traffic they’re the ones who get caught off guard when it’s time to start moving again. Or who slam on their brakes at the last second with a startled look on their faces as they buggily turn right and left to see if anyone else noticed that their near accident was due to texting while driving. But of course no one else did because they were texting, too. Statistics waiting to happen.
I admit it. I was once an on-the-road-texter. But as I started to notice out my rear view mirror that drivers behind me had no idea how close they were to the back end of my car – it’s hard to notice stuff like that when your eyes are pointed at your crotch, which is where most people seem to keep their phones despite research suggesting that’s not such a good idea — I realized that it might be wise to pay better attention myself. Just in case I have to swerve out of the way, accelerate to avoid someone driving into my trunk, or worse, dodge a drifting lane invader.
So I stopped.
But now that I have one less distraction while driving I can’t help but notice that I’m the only person not texting while driving.
At least in Boston.
Given we’re a city known for insane drivers and risk-taking pedestrians this has me concerned. The police do nothing. Unless of course a texting driver kills a pedestrian or takes out a fellow motorist. And while I don’t want to sound like one of those reformed smokers who feels compelled to lecture those still practicing, I am thinking that maybe I’ll start calling out people who text and drive. See if it becomes a movement or starts a new behavior.
It’s not hard, and it’s comparatively safe. I simply turn on my voice recorder before I start to drive and as I see road texters behind me or in front of me I record their license plate along with car make and model into the recorder.
For example, here are couple from this morning. The guy in the white Subaru, Massachusetts plate 74ES19, must have been 65 or 70, white-haired, texting away as if he were a teenage girl. Not your stereotypical texter at all. The women in the blue/gray Acura, Massachusetts 96VW17, appeared to be a professional worker on her way into the city. Both of them nearly hit other cars, but miraculously managed to avoid any impact. No way I am buying new car as long as I drive in and out of Boston.
Anyway, if you’re interested in outing texters on the road, let me know. We could put up a website and upload license plates of texting drivers.
Then again, some of our anti-texting community might get carried away. Start snapping actual photos. Putting them on Instagram or Facebook. Perhaps even doing so while they, too, are driving.
It would be sadly ironic if an anti-texting citizen watchdog got into an accident while photographing the texting driver.
Screw it. Maybe I’ll just get Hummer.
Ugh, texting (or just using your phone, which is worse now that everything is a touchscreen and requires us to look at it to see what we're tapping) while driving is absolutely the worst. I'm a senior in my college, and I have several friends who text or use their phones while driving. It makes me uncomfortable as a passenger, and uncomfortable for them since I know they do it when they're alone in the car and don't have anyone to make them stop or warn them when something's up ahead in the road. If I look at my phone, it's at a stoplight, and only when I have to call someone or something -- then it's put back down when Bluetooth picks it up. But even that's a distraction. It's safer to pull over or wait to respond to texts/emails/calls at your destination.
Not that I'm defending anyone, but I've realized that in many cases people probably aren't texting. They're opening a podcast, trying to use navigation, accessing email. In the long run, we may not even call them phones and that's part of the issue - they're becoming less and less for talking.
@Josh Weiss good point, but the simple fact is, whilst piloting two plus tons of steel and plastic down the road at speed, nothing is more important than controlling the vehicle. Any distraction - from texting to applying makeup to just looking down to change the station on the radio - is negligence, simple as that. There is a distinction to be made between drivers and vehicle operators. Those who enjoy false confidence from modern safety and convenience features and cannot be bothered to pay attention behind the wheel deserve all they get. And if the threat of being cited isn't sufficient deterrent, then perhaps public humiliation is. In the meantime, some of us will simply fit ominous, you-will-lose bumpers to our thousand dollar daily drivers and provide no quarter to the mindless herd.
Aaand LiveFyre fumbles again. Excellent loss of formatting. Sigh. Makes me look like some raving political commenter on YouTube or something. Ugh.
Brian Driggs Josh Completely agree. I'm just noting that the media and others want to outlaw simple texting, but the truth is that our smart phones are becoming addicting along many dimensions. If we just limit the message to no texting, we're letting people believe that other phone distractions are acceptable. A complete no-phones-while-driving law would be the right call.
Josh Weiss Brian Driggs Josh I may be wrong, but it appears there is a difference in people who are looking for a number and making a call vs texting. Usually the latter have no hands on the steering wheel and are more furiously looking up and down. Sometimes more down than up.
Josh Weiss Brian Driggs Josh What about GPSs and mp3 players? Those can be bad distractions too. Adjusting the temperature, changing the music, adjusting windows, turning your seat heater on... and plenty of other socially acceptable "normal" driving actions are distractions. Should eating while driving be illegal too? Two hands on the wheel at all times- Is that where we are going?
cperks21 Yes, but I'd argue that with phones, there's a new level of "engagement" in that you're waiting for a page to load, waiting for a response (to a text), etc. You're captivated by the stimulus / reward loop more so than when you're just changing a station, temp, etc. - many of those processes have been learned so well that they're outsourced to the automatic brain. @edwardboches I'd still argue that we're limiting the hazard if we only talk about texting. People could easily take that to mean other phone activities are ok.