The post I don’t want to write, and you don’t want to read (but we must)

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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:


20140610-094243-34963075.jpgAnd then, I make it look 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?


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25 thoughts on “The post I don’t want to write, and you don’t want to read (but we must)”

  1. OHMYGOSH I have so been in this place for a month or two now. I hear loud and clear the message that I need to PUT IT AWAY, but it’s just… so… difficult. It wasn’t a problem before I got my iPone in January, but over the last two months I have felt a TOTAL addiction. We will do this phone off/cellular off thing TOGETHER and live all the longer for it (as will those around us). Power to the (non-plugged-in) people!

  2. Totally with you!! Of course, out here at our fish camp, our cell phones don’t work. Even if they did, the application is the same: No skiff-driving and texting! You might hit a sea otter or a reef! (no chance of hitting another boat . .. .) Good one, Bronwyn!

  3. So interesting this came up this week. Discovery has launched a new app which monitors your driving, the better your driving the more tickets you get to win a prize. So I do brilliantly on speed, braking etc, but it also senses when you move your phone to check it and I lost points. And It made me realise how often I want to move my phone to check it. Its quite sobering! Thanks for the post!

  4. I am a bizarre weirdo from another time. I don’t have a cell phone. I have never texted in my life. Mobile tech (laptops, ipads, etc) do not appeal to me. I’ll just use the phone and computer at home, thanks. My spouse has a cell phone and it used to be a simple “trac phone” which I used/borrowed a few times when traveling out-of-town by myself. But now he got the smart phone, and it is too complicated and annoying for me to use. if I touch it, it seems to go bonkers! My husband laughs at my affect on it! I am not sharing this to be holier-than-thou or anything. I am an addict too – but at home!! I’m home more than most and I sure can squander time by checking, checking, checking – social media, e-mail, my blog, certain web sites, etc. So i relate to your post in my own way! And I need to stop checking and get somethings done today!! Thanks for a message even I needed to hear Bronwyn!

  5. I use my cellphone so little that I have often loaned it to various family members. Imagine my surprise while sitting in a courtroom to hear conversations and texts made from it referred to from police records. Like Laura, I have never sent a text. My phone number was assumed by the police, who had been spying on it, to belong to someone else. Ludicrous assumptions were made that added confusion to an already reprehensible miscarriage of justice. Some of the pornographic received messages that were revealing of the character of the sender were conveniently ignored by the police and by the Crown attorney. The phone itself was not sought or held as evidence; just an edited version of messages on it and a set of surmises to match. The case did not go to trial, so the methodology of the police was never called in question. We know that personal privacy is a thing of the past, but this incident provided proof perfect that Canada is not far behind the US in its surveillance of innocent citizens. Something else to remember about that homing device you carry.

  6. We need more people to put those phones down!!! I was injured in an auto accident because of this. I keep my phone in my purse unless it is docked to my car stereo. Even then I don’t touch it. To many people are getting injured and/or killed because of our insatiable desire to “check” our phones. Thank you for posting this!

    1. Thanks for sharing your story Lizzy. I’m so sorry you were hurt. I hope that more and more people wake up to the danger. I wish I had earlier!

  7. Good post, Bronwyn. I’m so easily distracted when I’m driving that I’ve made it a rule that I’ll never talk on my phone while driving. (My cell doesn’t handle texting well, so that’s not an issue.) I won’t answer if it rings. (If my daughter’s with me, she’ll answer if it’s someone we know, like my husband or mom.) But there’s no emergency that is so big that I’ll have to handle it while driving 50+ mph down a road (or even 20 mph, or 5 mph…) I mean, if it’s a big emergency–blood, fire, etc.–the other person shouldn’t be calling ME at all. Call 911, or the police. I can’t do diddly-squat about the house being on fire (or whatever) while I’m on a crowded freeway. And I’ll eventually return calls that are registered on my cell phone; then you can tell me all about it, while I’m parked somewhere safe with the car stopped and the motor off.

    On a tangent . . . recently I was driving through a school zone during school-letting-out-hours. This particular road doesn’t have lots of kids crossing, but the speed limit is 25, and I was driving less than 25. The woman in the car behind me was tailgating me and doing something on her cell phone. I slowed down. She passed and sped up, still on the phone. A cop car pulled out from a side street and pulled her over. I felt rather ungraciously gleeful as I passed by; she’d been too busy with whatever text/call was SO IMPORTANT to notice either the school zone’s flashing lights or the cop half-hidden from sight. Like I said, I felt like laughing, which is totally mean of me, but I did think it kind of served her right!

    1. You are so right: there is nothing we would be able to do about whatever we hear on that phone call, EVEN IF IT WAS AN EMERGENCY. And if it had been me pulled over by the cop – I know I would have deserved the ticket. But I don’t want that to ever be me…. (BTW – I didn’t leave a comment last time, but really appreciated your last post on talking to your daughter. I’m still thinking about it.)

  8. You know, it’s not only while driving (having a friend lose her little toddler to an accident in her own driveway and the use of the cellphone was under scrutiny – thankfully they were not using it at the time of the accident – but it COULD HAVE BEEN! – this cured me from checking my phone while driving) – checking our phones creeps into every area of our lives. I recently decided I would not longer check my phone first thing in the morning – not until I have had breakfast and devotions with my kids. You have no idea how many breakfasts and devotion times I have had to “skip” because I was busy responding to messages on my phone. I am ashamed!!! There is NOTHING more pressing than my kids’ need for a mom who takes time to focus on them – and share God’s Word with them. Waiting to return messages at 9am will not hurt anyone, but my kids will soon be grown and gone…so I have been convicted…Phone on flight mode till 9am!!!
    Thanks for sharing 🙂 most of us needed that gentle rebuke!

  9. i’m embarrassed to say that I’m guilty of what you are talking about. So guilty. 🙁 Must break the addiction cycle… I have a child in the car with me for Peet’s sakes. 🙁

  10. Thank you for posting this, we all need to take heed.

    Several months ago my husband told me he was late getting to work (2 cities away) due to a terrible traffic accident on the highway. Later we found out our next-door neighbor’s daughter-in-law was paralyzed for the rest of her life in that accident. She was driving with her 2 young girls when she was hit by a “texter”.

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