Distracted Driving: Is There Any Other Kind?

Moms with kids under 12 spend an average of 16 hours per week in the car. That’s like having a part time job (you could run a paper route with the time you spend behind the wheel running errands and chauffeuring).

Being confined to a vehicle for so much of the day, it’s no wonder we depend on our cell phones to get things done. We are the family switchboard, essentially functioning as AAA Roadside Assistance, a crisis hotline, and 9-1-1 all rolled into one. Yet the National Safety Council attributes 25% of crashes to drivers distracted with cell phones.

I would argue that having a kid in the car is already a distraction; multiply that by some factor for every additional child. Consider what we handle even without a cell phone ringing from the bottom of a purse:

STIMULUS RESPONSE
Baby Crying Incessantly Sing cheerfully despite mounting frustration
Dropped sippy cup or pacifier rolls underneath front seat “Fish” around for object with one hand
DVD player not working Re-load, push buttons in succession by touch
Child screaming for a different toy One-handed toss from toy basket in front seat
Sibling contact (slap, hit, invasion of “space”) Threaten, escalating to “Don’t make me have to pull over”
Back seat sneeze Retrieve tissues from console, pass back
Child doing the “Gotta go” wiggle/bounce,   pained expression Scan frantically for public restroom while repeating “Just hold on – we’re almost there”

Earlier this month the Vestavia City Council passed an ordinance banning text messaging, dialing cell phones, inputting information into a navigational device, and using any other laptop device while driving.  These restrictions sound like common sense, but they have me thinking about distracted driving in general. There are just too many distractions in our cars already. It’s foolish to try to do one more thing.

A citation for texting while driving in Vestavia can carry a fine of $100, and we all need to be aware of the ordinance (other municipalities are considering similar bans). But the bottom line is, we BirminghamMoms need to choose safety over efficiency. It makes no sense to buy the best crash rated vehicles and buckle our kids into carefully installed safety seats only to risk it all with a completely controllable behavior.

As urgent as our typical distractions may seem, none – including a text or call –  are so critical that they can’t wait until we are off the road and can offer our full attention.

  • Kristine

    Well said! I’m as guilty as anyone else (except for the texting), but all those distractions lead us to forget we’re dealing with a huge chunk of metal, at speeds that can quickly kill. I wish we could be scared more often.

    Very very close to my heart (and every day a battle I personally still fight in my car) because my husband commutes by bike from Hoover to Samford. Distracted drivers all around, and his life is in their hands.

  • Tina

    I’m so impressed that your husband is cycling to work. I’m sure I would worry about him, too. Driving to work in the morning has a whole other distraction – wondering what is waiting for you on your desk or behind that blinking voice mail light! You bring up a good reminder that we need to be focused on the road.

  • https://happyrain.org/ Emily

    Well said! I’m as guilty as anyone else (except for the texting), but all those distractions lead us to forget we’re dealing with a huge chunk of metal, at speeds that can quickly kill. I wish we could be scared more often.

    Very very close to my heart (and every day a battle I personally still fight in my car) because my husband commutes by bike from Hoover to Samford. Distracted drivers all around, and his life is in their hands.