I was one of the first people I knew to get a cellphone in the 90’s: a sleek black Nokia about the size of a pencil case. It could make and receive calls, and when texting became available a few years later – I texted on it too.
And for 17 years, that was all I needed my cellphone to do.
But then last year, my sisters
bullied persuaded my Dad into buying me a smart phone, since I wasn’t willing to make the change. “We stay in touch through apps,” they said, “and we don’t want you to be left out.” And so I got a phone. With apps. And it was wonderful.
The arrival of a smart phone also meant the arrival of some other things: the ability to get driving directions whenever and whereever! the ability to put my earbuds in and speak to my family overseas via skype for free while driving long distances, with sound quality as good as if they were sitting in the passenger seat next to me! the ability to check the opening time of the local pool, or the start time of a movie before heading over there! wonderful!
But also: the ability to check my facebook updates when I stopped at a traffic light, and the ability to see if that email reply I’d been waiting for had come in, and the ability to see what witty and wonderful things had been posted on twitter. At first, it was the occasional check. But with the weeks passing by, I found myself driving with my phone in hand more and more often. Not calling on it, or texting on it, but just… you know… checking.
Friends – I say with shame that this is the DUMBEST HABIT I have ever developed in my life: and after the second or third time I had an “oops” moment where I had to suddenly veer back after drifting into another lane, or screech to a halt behind someone who put a turning arrow on, alarm bells began to go off. It was just a matter of time before the “that was close!” moment became an “it’s too late” one.
Last year I fell off my bike. I was going about 3 miles per hour and was new to riding a road bike with clip-in pedals. I didn’t clip out fast enough, and I toppled over and smacked into my driveway. I was nearly stationary, and the weight of the fall was just me and my super-light bike – but it hurt like the BLAZES and I sported a bruise for weeks. Also, last year, my daughter fell off her 1-foot-off-the-ground bed… and broke her elbow.
If falling off a stationary bike or rolling off a 1-foot-high bed could cause such damage – WHO WAS I KIDDING that driving a two ton speed of metal at 30 miles per hour wasn’t going to cause SIGNIFICANT pain and suffering to my loved ones (and others’ loved ones!) if I were to get into an accident. Even at low speeds. Even just a fender bender.
And then yesterday, this video started to go viral – which hammered the point home even more:
I am an addict and I know it. But in the spirit of being proactive and responsible and a LIFE-SAVER and a parent, this is the plan I have come up with:
When I buckle myself into my car, I pick up my phone and scroll to the settings menu. I select “cellular”, and it looks like this:
No internet on the road? That means no social media on the road.
Easiest thing ever. Or easier yet – put it in airplane mode.
Or turn it off.
(I’m so sorry it took me this long).
But Please, do this with me. It can be our safe driving covenant, okay?