Have you ever found yourself sitting at a green light, waiting for the driver in front of you to start moving? Does the rest of the line gleefully accelerate, while you remain at a standstill? Do you patiently wait for the driver to look up, or do you tap your horn so you won’t have to risk sitting through another mind-numbing light cycle? As a California driver, this is my pet peeve: texting while driving.
I like to text as much as the next person. I like the convenience of getting hold of someone quickly and efficiently. That instant gratification is wonderful, especially in this day of automated answering machines, where a live person picking up on the other end is an endangered species. People will answer a text much more quickly than a ringing telephone. How many of you have called your children, only to go to their voicemail, yet when you text, they respond in nanoseconds? I rest my case.
Although I do like to text, there is one time I won’t, and that’s when I’m driving. It’s against the law, for one thing. Besides that, logically speaking, the two activities don’t mix. While a person can drive with one hand (I’m guilty of that), and text with one hand (I’m not that coordinated; I think it’s a Mom thing), your attention can’t be divided that easily. Either you’re watching the road, or looking at the screen. You can’t do both. And this is where my rant picks up.
Let’s go back to my opening scene. I have never been a horn user. I prefer to give drivers the benefit of the doubt, and patiently wait behind them until they start moving. But, lately, I’ve found myself resorting to my horn. In southern California, there is a plethora of red lights. And traffic. If you wait too long, your drive time can expand exponentially. So, when I’m sitting longer than a couple seconds, I end up tapping my horn.
Even from behind, you can tell when someone is texting; their head is bowed, like they’re praying. If only they were. Once I touch the horn, their head bounces up, and their car jerks forward. Sometimes they get mad and flip me the bird. Seriously! Even though they are the culprit, they take offense at the honk.
Now, people aren’t always texting when they are on the phone. Sometimes they’re fiddling with their music play list. But, the result is the same. They get caught up in hunting for that perfect song, until hooonnnkkk! Someone wakes them up from their “Youtube” search. I’ve even passed people on the freeway, looking down at that 2”X2” screen while driving over seventy miles an hour!
Occasionally, you get the middle-aged businessman (or woman), comfortable ensconced in the far-left lane, elbow resting on the window frame, phone up at their ear, cruising along at a speed at least ten mph slower than the flow of traffic. If you get stuck behind them, kiss your punctuality good-bye. They’ll poke along until they see a yellow light. Then, they’ll punch it enough so that they make it through, while you’re stuck sitting at another stop.
Like everyone else, I like the convenience of texting. I like that I can make contact with my family whenever, wherever they are. There is no doubt that texting satisfies our need for instant gratification. I don’t think it mixes well with driving. I definitely don’t think any message is worth the risk of getting into a car accident.
I challenge you this: the next time your phone chimes while you’re driving, ignore it until you get to your destination. I bet when you pick it up, you’ll see that it’s nothing more than a smiley-face emoji, or an “I’m on the way home” message. Nothing worth breaking the law, or your neck. And, definitely, not worth someone’s life.