Monday, March 26, 2012

No Call, No Text, No Update is worth a human life...

Tomorrow in DC there is an attentative driving forum. I wish I could be there but am thrilled to know there will be a web cast of the proceedings. I think this is something we will all want to know. Here is another testimonial of a family stricken by this epidemic of distracted driving. NO CALL, NO TEXT, NO UPDATE is worth even one life.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dashboard Dining is Distracted Driving

Luigi Fraschini wrote in his Driving Today article "Eating on the Run", "While 68 percent of Americans say they eat in their cars to save time, they also have concerns about messiness, trash or spills that come along with eating on the go. In fact, 37 percent of respondents cited messiness and spills as their primary concern while eating in the car. Happily another 33 percent cited safety."

As the guy from Invisible Children and Maria Shriver can attest, if you are going to have a cause and try to change the way people see your chosen good will, then you shouldn't screw up or get busted doing something unsavory or doing exactly what you are preaching against (him Joseph Kony and her hand-held cell phones). I have been making sure that in this endeavor to educate Texans about the distractions that we face in our vehicles these days, I don't do anything that would be distracted driving. However, I might have forgotten a big one, DASHBOARD DINING--the art of eating while driving.

Well, I am busted! And I almost paid the ultimate price for it. Doubly bad is that it's raining here in my part of the Lone Star State and traffic only gets worse when the wet stuff falls from the sky. We see it so rarely that we forget how to drive when rain visits us.

Nevertheless, this morning I was in a rush to get to work and decided to eat and drive to save time. I made it through my Sonic Ultimate Meat and Cheese Burrito just fine. It was just as I popped the yummy little mint (the soft kind that melt easily THANK GOD!) into my mouth that a fellow commuter cut me off. I braked hard to avoid a collision and narrowly saved us both from having to do a rain dance to exchange information. Down side...that not so little mint flew down my throat WHOLE and wedged itself sideways.

Although panicked, I managed to pull into a parking lot safely. It might have only been a minute but I made myself stay calm to assess the situation even though I was sure that I was going to die of suffocation before I could figure how to give myself the Heimlich maneuver using the steering wheel. Then I realized that I was still breathing.

Thank you, Baby Jesus! It went down the "right" way, but Holy-things-swallowed-whole, it hurt and no manner of continuous swallowing was making it budge. I decided a hot beverage might melt the little offender more quickly. I got to my office and made myself a hot tea. I think it has finally dissolved or moved on down to the stomach. However, this life lesson will stick with me. No more dashboard dining! No more distracted driving!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Break is Over...The Mission Continues

Thanks for understanding I needed a break. We are back and I am more determined than ever to educate everyone on the dangers of distracted driving.  Check out what I found on my daily Google for Distracted Driving News:

Forbes Magazine Article: Author Dale Buss makes some good points. "The real problem is the distractions that take over their minds while they're driving, regardless of whether they're handling all of the electronic communications 'hands-free'." As the passenger on Sunday, I proved this in that my eyes never left the road we were traveling. However, because I was thinking about my sister's death last year and having to leave my parents on the day before the anniversary of her death to return to "the real world," I didn't remember anything of our trip home. What if I had been the driver? Unfortunately, I know that I have done the zone out thing while being the driver too. Another point Buss made is that automakers are going to have a hard time staying up with the latest technology in the cars they make and making those same cars distraction free. You really cannot say, "Hey buy this car ...we support the IPad distraction free." The two just cannot continue to hold hands and play nice. Since enacting the ban on cell phone use in California, that state is seeing a decrease in the number of motor vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers.

Life Before Text App: Holy Crochet Batman! I love this app and will get it for the darling daughter. Parents set the speed limit on the app, say 10 mph. The phone still receives missed calls and texts but doesn't disturb the teen driver. It just displays what was missed while being distraction free. Also, if the teen driver disables the app, IT SENDS AN EMAIL TO THE PARENTS. Genius!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring Break in Texas Begins Today at 4 p.m.

Spring Break for most Texans begins today with the final school bell. Many will be driving off to their warmer destination. How many will go with their full attention on the road? My family will be remembering that one year ago a distracted driver stole our precious Gayla from us because he was distracted while driving his 18-wheeler.

I found this amazing re-enactment video today and wish everyone would watch it and see the consequences of distracted driving.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Avoid Tired and Emotional Driving

As Hubby Dearest and I prepare to teach our Darling Daughter how to drive in the next year, we are sharing the horror stories of our own learning experiences. This has brought to mind another biggie in distracted driving...emotional and tired driving. I personally LOVE the "Menace Like Me" commercial where the scruffy man says he's a teenage girl who just got a text message about a friend and the boy she likes, "And now I am emotionally compromised. Whoopsies!" BANG! Hits a car.

Within the first year of my learning to drive, I wrecked my mother's truck, my father's truck and my sister's car. Two of those were the same accident. In both situations, I was under pressure and could have been considered an emotional driver and distraction to myself. I am lucky no one was hurt. Some drivers and passengers and by-standers are not as lucky.

When our minds are focused on something other than driving, we are more prone to accidents. Make sure you are calm and attentive before getting behind the wheel each and every time.

Monday, March 5, 2012

You Are Going Blind!!!!

An Australian study from 2005 showed researchers that drivers using hands-free devices while driving are still four times more likely to be in an accident, the same chance as someone holding their cellular phone while talking and driving. "Motorists are more accident-prone and slower to react when they talk on cellular telephones - even hands-free models - because 'inattention blindness' makes the drivers less able to process visual information," University of Utah researchers found in 2003.

I figured out this weekend the reason why everyone is subject to inattention blindness. It doesn't have to be the electronics in your car. For me, it was the chatty teen sitting right next to me. It dawned on me as we were happily going to see our friends on Saturday that I hadn't really seen where we were going even though my "eyes" were on the road. My mind was preoccupied with girl child telling a story, and we straight up passed a store at which we wanted to purchase a Giant Metal Chicken for our Sosie's birthday. I was astonished that we had to back track more than two miles to make our purchase. That is more than two miles of heavy traffic that could have taken us out. I am just amazed that we weren't.

Inattention Blindness happens to EVERYONE so don't get all judgy on me (I feel bad enough as it is). Always the brainiac, I researched this to learn more about it. My favorite research comes out of Harvard, The Invisible Gorilla Test. The study asked people to watch a video where two teams wearing black and white t-shirts pass a basketball around. They were told to count the number of passes made by one of the teams. In the video someone walks through the players wearing a full gorilla suit. After watching the video, the subjects were asked if they saw anything out of the ordinary... 50% of the subjects did not report seeing the gorilla. This research showed that what is in our sight area is not seen if our mind is focused on another task.

That scares the crap out of me! I think about how many times I became bored on the long trip from DFW to East Texas to see my family and zoned out. Unless there is a needed potty break in Sulfur Springs or Mount Pleasant, you could drive on Interstate 30 and never see the crepe myrtle grower outside of Greenville or the Rainbow Ranch. There's an exit 1993 that I have always looked for because that was the year I graduated from high school. Those are just a few of the scenes on the side of the road...what about those tractor trailers that are on the road with me? What about that road rager? The gal putting on her make-up or yelling at her kids? The idiot with the dog in his lap? Distractions, distractions, distractions...they are EVERYWHERE!