Look, Ma, no hands! - FamilyEducation

Look, Ma, no hands!

July 01,2008
Skaddadle
Todd Lieman
Today was the first day that it’s illegal to drive in California while holding/talking on a cell phone. Hands-free is okay, but if you get caught holding onto your phone, the fine is hefty. As I’m not the most prolific driver/talker in the history of the world, I’m not sure that I’ll be too affected by this law. There are those, however, who will have their worlds rocked! There are those who might actually have to pay attention (even to their kids!) as they drive.

I’ll cop to DWD – driving while distracted. Perhaps often. Whether I’m fiddling with the stereo, looking for the next CD, or even…yes…texting (the worst habit of all). So, I’m not here dissing anyone. That being said – I’m always amazed when I nearly get killed by someone who isn’t paying ANY attention while driving. It’s a CAR you’re driving. It’s a deadly weapon. Try not to shave while going 75 miles per hour down the freeway (highway, tollway – insert your word here).

I am, however, WAY more careful when I drive with K-Man in the car. For starters, I’m usually having some kind of conversation with him, or singing with him. (With the windows closed to avoid any accidents caused by my less-than-lovely singing voice.) For the most part, with the possible exception of talking to his mom, I’m rarely on the phone if he’s in the car. (This is less because I’m being careful, though, and more because he’s usually talking up a storm, “Who’s THAT, Daddy?” or “Oh, did you see that? A fire truck!”)

With that in mind, on the occasion that I nearly get killed by a parent on a cell phone (with any number of kids in the car), I get particularly peeved. Is it really all that hard to put the phone down and make sure that you/we all get to our destination(s) in one, healthy piece? How soon we forget that feeling of driving home from the hospital with our kid for the very first time. Tucked in the car seat in the backseat – a tiny newborn. We drive just like they taught us in driver’s education (both hands on the wheel, slow, big buffer and, if possible, with the hazards on!).

Though I’m excited about the hands-free law, I’m also skeptical that it will cut down on any accidents. According to the requisite studies, the problems aren’t with holding our phones. The problems are with the fact that we’re on the phone at all! The accidents are caused by distractions, in general. And, based on my first day hands-free, I get it.

In order to be a thoughtful, law-abiding citizen, I set up the Bluetooth in my car (finally). I made a couple of phone calls and LOVED the fact that I was now having a phone call through my car stereo. Here I was, talking to my business partner, G, or whomever else – and they were on the radio! I thought it was really cool. I thought it was too cool, as I kind of forgot that I was driving. Doh! Seems this hands-free law (for me, anyway) is even more distracting that it was before. And, when K-Man hears his mom’s voice in surround sound? Oh no. Can’t let that happen.

It seems that (again – for me, anyway) I was more careful when I had to hold the phone. It made me focus that much harder. And, if there ever were bad traffic, I would always put the phone down. Now? I guess I don’t need to do that! (Just kidding.)

So, I’m going to put the phone down for good when driving. If you see me on the road, you’ll be safe. Hopefully, all those other drivers will be, too!