Moms who text and drive make me want to junk punch a kitten.

So I’m sitting in my car, in the turning lane, patiently waiting to turn left into my son’s school parking lot.

not the actual street...just an example for yinz visual people

My blinker is on.

There are cars slowly pulling up behind me also waiting to turn left.

Two long lines of traffic are passing me on both sides…I estimate at about 45 mph, and only that slow because we are in a school zone. (Good ol’ Georgia!)

It is 8:25 AM. Everyone is in such a hurry to get where they’re going.

I’m growing impatient. The traffic is heavier than usual today.

Hurry. Up. People! I mutter under my breath.

And that is when I notice the front of a mammoth white SUV, slowly drifting across the yellow line, and heading right toward the front of my car.

The woman driving doesn’t see me waiting there in the turning lane.

She is looking at her phone.

(The following picture is a dramatic reenactment of what I saw in her car. Obviously I wasn’t taking pictures…I was driving. Duh.)

boy shouting as his mom to not text and drive: I'mma tell Oprah!

 

I am trapped.

I slam on my horn and shout “OH MY GOD – hang on honey,” to my 4 year old son who is strapped into his car seat in the back.

The texting driver, who looks about my age (40s), is clearly startled and swerves away from the front of my car just in the nick of time.

I am shaking as I pull into the parking lot and park my car.

****

Look, I get it. I have my iPhone on my person or within arm’s reach at ALL TIMES. It is nothing short of an addiction.

Frankly, I’m not coordinated enough to even attempt to text, tweet, or read email while I drive; although I confess, I have done it while stopped at red lights* and in the car pool line.

But that ends today.

If I had been looking at my phone while I was waiting for that long line of traffic to pass, I would not have noticed that texting woman drifting into my lane. I would not have been able to honk and wake her out of her stupor. My son and I would have been hit head-on and could be severely injured or even dead today.

Hey, I’m not ready to die or lose my family, particularly from something as incredibly selfish and stupid as texting while driving.

So I’m writing this today to ask you and your friends to be more careful, for my sake.

Kidding. Kind of. Not really.

Seriously. Quit trying to multitask! I could throttle the Gordon Gekko-type who created that buzzword and made people feel like if we aren’t doing multiple things at once we are wasting time.

I am a huge fan of UNITASKING, especially when I’m shaving, engaging in hand-to-hand combat, or driving.

But in today’s fast-paced society, we’re at a disadvantage if we aren’t accessible and in the loop all. the. time. It’s a double edged sword.

I see TV ads, billboards, and bumper stickers all the time that warn us about the dangers of texting and driving, but they all seem to be aimed at teenagers. I say this because I’m not sure most of the adults in my life could decipher “Dnt txt n drv”.

source

 

Grownups in the hizzy, admit it…you have no idea what most abbreviations mean these days.

source: i.imgur.com

Come on. You know I’m right. I had to ask my kid what FTW meant the other day because I thought “Fuck the World!” seemed a little extreme in a Facebook conversation titled #ReplaceFilmTitlesWithVagina. (It means “For the Win!” btw (by the way).)

Don’t get me wrong, I think it is great that teens are being taught about the dangers of texting while driving the same way we were scared about drinking and driving. But the thing is, in all the driving I do, I see so many more adults than teens texting while they drive.

How can we get adults on board with this?

no phone zone

Obviously, if the honorable Mz. Oprah can’t eradicate texting while driving from the world, maybe it can’t be done. But what if we all took a pledge to make our cars a no-phone-zone?

What? It’s been done? DAMN IT.

Well then, let’s just keep talking about it, and educating ourselves, and being good role models for others.

Are you a numbers person? There are plenty of statistics out there in support of making your car a no-phone-zone. But some of the most convincing ones I’ve seen are these:

  • Nearly 80% of collisions involve some form of driver inattention (distraction, fatigue or looking away)
  • Using a cell phone use while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (Source: University of Utah)
  • Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent  (Carnegie Mellon) (source)

Oh, and by the by, texting while driving and/or distracted driving is just flat out ILLEGAL in a vast majority of states. And that includes texting while at a red light or waiting to turn. Not sure if it’s illegal in your state? Click here for a current handy dandy chart (current as of February 2012).

And if that’s not enough of a motivator, how about the knowledge that there are entire clothing lines and websites out there dedicated to making fun of parents’ texts. (Go there. So funny!)

(source)

In summary:

When you are driving, just DRIVE. Don’t text. Don’t read. Don’t play Words with Friends. Don’t put on your frickin’ makeup. Don’t clean your firearm. Don’t froth your steamed skim milk. JUST DRIVE. The life you save could be your own, and/or mine.

sincerely yours, and not currently behind the wheel of a car,

-Iris

*Obviously that was before I knew that I was breaking the law! Now I know, and my phone stays zipped inside my purse while I drive. 

 

© 2012 The Bearded Iris.

About The Bearded Iris

Leslie Marinelli is a writer, humorist, blogger, life hacker, and invisible vessel for grandchildren and PTA donations.
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65 Responses to Moms who text and drive make me want to junk punch a kitten.

  1. jillsmo says:

    Holy crap, you are SO RIGHT. I’m totally on board. I am very guilty of doing this at lights and lines and such, but I will stop TODAY.

  2. Jessica says:

    Excellent post and one more reason why you should have replaced Oprah.
    In all seriousness, I don’t text while driving but I glance/check/look at my phone too long while driving and I shouldn’t. I’m going to remember your post and zip it in my purse, where it belongs.
    Thank you and glad you are okay.

  3. Rootietoot says:

    My husband was waiting in a turn lane, and rear ended by a young woman who was texting, the police guesstimated that she was going about 70 when she hit him. Several years ago, I was in a turn lane, waiting to go left. Witnesses said my signal was on and everything. I was rear ended and my car totalled by someone going (police guesstimate) about 75mph. There were 2 kids in my car (one in a car seat). No one was hurt, but the driver narrowly escaped a painful and public death at the hands of a very pissed off mother. Yes, m’dear, I am WITH YOU ON THIS.

    • So relieved you are all okay! I was rear-ended twice by distracted drivers in my 20s, but they were yelling at their kids, not texting…that was long before cell phones. So scary and painful! The stats are getting worse every year.

  4. Jill says:

    I’m with you – I am not coordinated enough. Not to mention at 40 my eyes don’t transition from “far away” to “what the hell does the phone say” as quickly as they used to.

    You should start a club – UNITASKERS UNITE!

    • OMG, you too with the eyes? I have such a hard time, even in my glasses, transitioning from near to far. Love the UNITASKERS UNITE! Club. Only I might be a little dyslexic too because I first typed UNITASKERS UNTIE!

      • Jill says:

        I typed that too! Just for the record, I don’t need reading glasses yet but the transition time is a bitch.

        Also, I put my kids to work in the car. I hand the phone off to them and they text for me and answer the phone.

    • Ann says:

      OMG, same here! If I can see out the windshield I sure as hell can’t read what’s on the phone!

  5. We have a firm rule that the driver is not allowed to handle a phone while we’re in the car. That job falls into the “Co-Pilot” category. Unfortunately, when I saw that first photo, I immediately yelped “Oooo! Starbucks!” which can be equally as dangerous and distracting.

    Now can we agree to go after those A-holes who read the newspaper or novels while driving 75 on the freeway? Please? I’ve been dying to build a dirty diaper launcher for years just for this very reason.

    PS – You – in those glasses making that exact face – that’s exactly how I picture you in my mind. Oh, and there’s usually a cocktail & Bucket Head with his face in a dog’s junk involved, too. I either have a vivid imagination or I’m a rabid fan of your work. Or both.

    • Love that rule! “Co-Pilot” sounds like such an important role too…which might help me stay awake while my husband drives.

      And yes, totally, how in the world do people READ or do the crossword while they drive?! Dirty diaper launcher! You kill me. Sounds like you know me pretty well too if you associate me with funny faces, booze, and dog junk. I approve of this image.

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  7. Why the poor little kitty? Was he texting? He had it coming to him if he was, otherwise I think I would junk punch the 40 year old be-yotch in the white SUV.

  8. Allysgrandma says:

    Against the law to talk on the phone or text in California! You can talk if you have one of those ear thingees, but I just pull over if I have to if my phone rings or I get a text. It’s not that hard…..just pull over! I guess I am lucky I am not in that big of a hurry to get anywhere anymore.

    PS Thank you for your Public Safety Post!!
    PSS My youngest and her Marine husband are moving from SC to Hawaii!!!!!

    • CA is always so far ahead of the world on those things. When I lived there they paid ME to recycle and learn about worm composting! Also, first state to make smoking in public illegal. Love California. Miss it!

  9. No laws in FL, not even for bus drivers.
    On the upside, for all of the very old people on the roads, ha … imagine that, they are not texting and driving because a. they are struggling to see over the dashboard as it is, and b. most won’t shell out for texting, they prefer to just shout to eachother.

    • SCARY!!! Not even busdrivers. Jayzus. I think you better start packing and just move up here near me. My next door neighbor just put her house on the market. C’mon!

  10. The publicist is old enough to remember when bag phones first came out. Yes, they were first called bag phones ’cause you carried them around in a bag. The male person mounted hers in her car for her because she drove a lot for her job. She soon got a hands free because she learned that with a stick shift it was quite hard to try and talk on the phone, downshift and pay a toll all at the same time.

    She knew very early that it’s not the phone but the conversation that is so very distracting…..and this was long before texting existed.

  11. Amanda says:

    I’m with you on this. My thought always is that if we could live without talking and texting twenty years ago why can’t we now? Thanks for trying to make our roads just a bit safer.

  12. L. Hewitt says:

    Unitaskers unite indeed! There was a recent study (too lazy to source) proving multi-tasking does not work, signifcantly less was accomplished, with more errors and, took more time. (This does not include mamas with baby on hip, cooking supper, helping with homework, folding laundry, etc.). Slow down and put your phone down people! Iris is trying to get buckethead to school! BTW – The asses that think wherever they are going is so much more important than where someone else is going are dead ass wrong. So glad you and little buckethead are alright.

  13. Jen says:

    Wake up call, noted.

    No texting and driving.

  14. allison says:

    I don’t text (hey, have you seen the Youtube video about the woman who falls into the mall fountain while texting? Texting is DANGEROUS, yo). I have a crappy little flip-phone with a broken screen – I am not even tempted to look at it when I’m using it to call someone. Sometimes it’s safer being a noob.

  15. It’s one of my pet peeves – people who make out with their phones while driving. Half the muppets on the road drive like muppets BECAUSE they just can’t leave their phone alone. It drives me crazy (pun intended).

  16. Jenny says:

    My daughter nannies two school-age boys and recently, while waiting in line to pick them up from school, watched helplessly as a parent in a big SUV, busy with something in her lap (?) carelessly allowed her car to roll forward and hit the car in front of her, narrowly missing several students dashing out to their cars. Horrifying to read the comments about the rear-end crashes caused by distracted drivers…the laws don’t seem to be helping…

  17. Carrie says:

    I really, really look forward to you making me laugh.

    This time? You failed.

    But in a tremendously good way.

    I don’t text and drive. Or check my email. Or polish my nails. Or change my car battery. But I am very, very guilty of texting or email checking when at a red light. Or even a stop sign if no one is waiting on me to go.

    It never crossed my mind that while my face is buried in my yahoo, someone could be headed into me and I’d never see them. Kinda like what almost happened to you.

    So, for the first time ever: Thank you for not making me laugh.

    And I am so, so glad ya’ll are ok and it was only a scare. So ridiculously glad.

    (Plus, if you ended up in the hospital I’d be feeling like I had to be there to apply your lip gloss for when you had visitors. And well, I’m close to broke right now. So I’d have to sell a neighbors dog or something for airfare. So, thanks for keeping me in good with the ‘hood, too.)

    Love.

    • OMG, “while my face is buried in my yahoo…” FUNNY!!! Girl, get your face out of your yahoo! Boy, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve had to say that.

      Damn, I wish we were IRL friends because having someone who would apply my lip gloss in the hospital sounds like the best friend ever. That chokes me up actually.

  18. Kathleen says:

    Thank you! This is so right on! I have a friend to tells me all about her and her husband texting back and forth while she drives home from work and all I can do is wonder how she made it home alive and without killing someone else!
    I’m glad you and Bucket Head are okay=)

    • Thanks Kathleen! Oh geez, it’s so hard when the people doing stupid shit are our friends, isn’t it? Maybe you could email her this post and say “Read this and thought of you. Please don’t text and drive, I would miss you if you died in a fiery car crash and were mangled beyond all recognition.” …or something sweet and thoughtful like that.

  19. I’m so glad you guys are okay! People who text while drive make me insane. I want to take their phone and bash it over their head.

    Oh, and I thought FTW meant Fuck The What, like a play on What The Fuck. Shhh, don’t tell anyone.

  20. This can’t be said enough, FTW. And here is another nugget to chew on. Your kids in the car? The ones strapped in their booster seats? They are going to be drivers one day. Do you want an entire childhood of you driving and texting imprinted on their brains. What you demonstrate to them is more powerful than anything you can tell them.
    Sorry. Ever since my daughter turned 13, I’ve had a slight hysterical edge to my voice. I should be over it in about a decade.

  21. Pish Posh says:

    Ahhh my mom got hit by a text and driver — he was driving. she was WALKING. Her life is in shambles now… thanks for writing this.

  22. Didi says:

    So glad that you and your son are safe Iris, and AMEN to your post!!!

    I got rearended 1-1/2 yrs ago on my birthday at a high speed, because he was texting and didn’t see me till the last second. Of course I couldn’t swerve or move over, it was a two lane road, and their was a car in front of me. I just kept my foot on the break and braced myself for the impact… I heard his tires as he was trying to stop!!
    Yea… technology at it’s finest! For the record; he was in his mid 30’s.

  23. peruby says:

    FTW – yep. My first thought was Fuck the World. ‘Cause that is how most teenagers think. Hmm… come to think of it probably me too.

    I checked the state laws and I live in Ohio. The ONLY state totally blank across the row. Totally blank. And – my daughter is moving to Florida. Another one (almost) blank. When I sit at red lights I count the number of drivers I see on their phone. It is very sad.

    I did see an Interstate driver reading the newspaper. He was in a huge box van and I was so scared to pass him because he kept swerving but I had to get around him because of this fact and get away from him. When I looked back at him in my rear view – there was the newspaper sprawled out all over and covering his steering wheel.

    • Holy crap. Terrifying! What’s up Ohio? I used to think Ohio was such a wholesome place, but between this and the exotic animal massacre and Mansfield being the meth capital of the USA, I’m starting to think Ohio isn’t so fab after all.

  24. Shannon says:

    Great post. I am also guilty of texting at stoplights or other places where I’m stopped.

    I think I will take unitasking to heart. It really applies to all of life, not just texting and driving. I get into too much trouble trying to do more than one thing at a time.

    I almost hit a student on my daughter’s college campus the other day because she was texting while walking and crossed the street without looking to see if any cars were coming. I try to be more alert and careful now – amazing how we choose to be more diligent because of other’s stupid choices!

    • “Take unitasking to heart!” YES. Love that. It really is all about being more present in everything we do, isn’t it?

      And whoa – your last sentence…so awesome. It is a choice. I choose to live! :)

  25. Awesome post, Iris! Funny and informative and scary as hell all at the same time. I don’t have a smartphone, so I’m not joined at the hip with my cell phone like most people these days are. And I’m certainly not coordinated enough to even think about typing a text while driving – especially since all of mine have to be grammatically correct with NO TEXT SPEAK! because that shit drives me cray-cray (see what I did there?). But I do occasionally talk on my phone in the car, so this gave me the kick in the pants I need to stop.

    And yes, when I see others texting and driving – whether teenager or adult – it fills me with rage. Literal Hulk-like rage.

    • Text speak is annoying as hell. And it scares the crap out of me that there is a generation of kids who can’t write proper English.

      The stat that scared me the most was the one about using a cell phone in the car reducing our brain activity associated with driving by 37%! So even talking on the phone, even WITH a head set is a distraction. No more for me!

  26. Sassy says:

    I am so guilty of this. I have stopped texting and driving (because I no longer have a BB with a keyboard) but I do text at stoplights or even stop signs when no one else is coming.

    I am so glad you wrote this and glad you did not get hit. I will put my phone down.

  27. Kristen says:

    Behind this 100%. Not one thing on your phone is more important than anyone’s life. My brother once followed someone who ran him off of the road…not in road rage but to show the mud & grass that he lucky ran through with a truck that could handle it and swerved to miss some trees. The driver was pregnant…very pregnant and still texting as he pulled up next to her at the next light. My brother told her that she should be ashamed of herself. She rolled up the window without even saying I’m sorry but had a very red face. I hope he embarassed her enough to make her stop.

  28. Emily Y. says:

    I actually pulled up next to a mom playing Angry Birds on her cell phone at a stop light, with three kids in the backseat! She didn’t even know the light turned green until someone honked at her! When I was in college, a friend of mine was killed in an accident caused because she was texting and driving… it’s a real danger! I have found myself tempted at the red light to just take a quick glance at Facebook or something… so I now tuck the phone in the diaper bag in the backseat, out of reach. Frankly, it’s kind of nice to have some unplugged time.

  29. Kristin says:

    I have checked the phone at red lights. I won’t anymore…

    This drives me nuts, and while I see it more often in just annoying cases – people not going on a green because they are reading an email at a red light – seeing so many people (often moms with kids in the car) makes me afraid to let my kids cross the street on their own. I always get eye contact first…but I’m not sure my kids would.

  30. Mel says:

    This is an absolutely amazing and necessary post! Thanks for the reminder to all of us.

  31. Wow changes the way I think about a casual look on my phone. I am addicted and guilty as charged. I will do better!

  32. Erik Wood says:

    Great article… I do think we live in a culture where business people need to ‘hit the ball over the net’. Teens consider it rude not to reply immediately to texts. Home schedules would grind to a halt without immediate communication. We are conditioned to pursue this level of efficiency but we are all supposed cease this behavior once we sit in our respective 5,000 pound pieces of steel and glass. Creating a sustainably safer driver may start with public awareness via legislation but legislation alone cannot win this battle.

    I read that more than 3/4 of teens text daily – many text more 4000 times a month. New college students no longer have email addresses! They use texting and Facebook – even with their professors. Tweens (ages 9 -12) send texts to each other from their bikes. This text and drive issue is in its infancy and I think we need to do more than legislate.

    I decided to do something about distracted driving after my three year old daughter was nearly run down right in front of me by a texting driver. Instead of a shackle that locks down phones and alienates the user (especially teens) I built a tool called OTTER that is a simple GPS based texting auto reply app for smartphones. It also silences call ringtones while driving unless you have a bluetooth enabled. I think if we can empower the individual then change will come to our highways now and not just our laws.

    Erik Wood, owner
    OTTER LLC
    OTTER app

  33. Ninja Mom says:

    Sooooo much to say . . .

    Before I was “txtucated,” I thought FTW was “Fuck the What?” I like my version better.

    I’ve completely given up frothing my milk while driving since the near-hit (ner-miss? FTW?) of a lumbering octogenarian at the church pot luck.

    You are TOO RIGHT. I’m joining your cause.

  34. Ash says:

    I’m so glad you were able to get her attention it’s so scary. I am all for the unitasking too for the super important tasks that could result in loss of life or injury if performed incorrectly especially. I was rear ended recently on the way to church and now I can’t stop staring in the rear view mirror whenever I’m stopped at a light or waiting to turn. Thank you for reminding me danger comes from the front too. I will be more careful watching all sides in the future.

  35. Lisa says:

    Thanks for your reminder! I won’t text ever in the car anymore, or read emails, tweets, etc.!

  36. Karen says:

    Iris: I always think of you when I sometimes park stupidly in the parking lot & park over the line. I will think of you when I have my Iphone in the car & won’t text (I already don’t do this) or check e-mails, FB, etc. I however just received a prayer request from a prayer chain I am on asking for prayers for a family from MO. The mom & dad were on the way home from the hospital with their newborn son when they were hit by a 19 yr. old girl who was texting. The only survivor was the little boy. A family torn apart over something as stupid as a text message. It’s just not worth it!

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  38. Cindy says:

    Here’s a doozy for ya. I live off I-5 and I see a lot and I’m not talking a few but a boat load of truckers flying down the freeway in a million ton killing machine, talking, texting, reading, watching, and God only knows what else. It scares the crap out of me. There are times when you are surrounded by those guys and you pray and pray that at least on of them is paying attention to their driving. It’s scary as hell.

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