Driving 101: Just Drive!

Businessman using mobile phoneI will soon be on the commute home.  It’s always an adventure.  You never know what’s going through the minds of the drivers in Nashville, Tennessee.  People tend to do whatever they feel like doing.  Forget about traffic lights, turn signals and lanes on the road.  If they can do it, they will.  Never assume anything out there.

Recently we encountered a driver that was driving erratic as we were on the ramp to enter I-40.  My wife looked over (since I was driving) and noticed the driver was all into texting.  The driver was looking down at their phone and texting.  It must have been important.

It seems too many drivers are focused on other things than driving.  If you are behind the wheel, you’re ONLY job is to drive.  Nothing else.  Drive the vehicle.

Distracted driving is a huge problem today.  Distracted driving is the act of driving while engaged in other activities which take the driver’s attention away from the act of driving.  Although distracted driving has been a problem before, the problem became more of a problem with the invention of smartphones (which makes drivers dumb).  According to the United States Department of Transportation, text messaging while driving creates a crash risk 23 times higher than driving while not distracted.

Our daughter was rear ended on the exit ramp when another driver admitted that she was looking at her child showing her a YouTube video.  When she looked up, it was too late to avoid impact.  Fortunately, our daughter wasn’t seriously injured but it has been a very difficult time dealing with something that wasn’t her fault.

Distracted driving includes activities such as:

  • Eating
  • Looking after children
  • Texting
  • Talking on the phone
  • Talking to a passenger
  • Watching videos
  • Rubbernecking
  • Reading

While on the subject of drivers talking on the phone – who are these people talking to?  Why is it necessary to have to talk to people on the phone?

Think about it…we enter a vehicle made of steel, plastic and rubber and accelerate up to 70 miles per hour.  Shouldn’t we be more concerned about doing that act safely rather than eating a cheeseburger or texting a poop emoji to someone?

When I road the bus in Tampa, one day I looked over and saw a driver with the newspaper completely opened and reading it while he was driving.  Wow.  How stupid have we become?

My wife commented this morning that she saw someone with headphones on while driving.  So, now we have a driver who will be deaf to anything happening on the road but will make sure he can hear his Blake Shelton song.

I found this poll very interesting.  According to a HealthDay poll of adults who admitted to being distracted:

  • 86% were eating or drinking while driving
  • 41% were adjusting their GPS device
  • 37% were texting
  • 36% were using a map (yeah, that surprised me too)
  • 24% were browsing the Internet
  • 20% were combing or styling their hair
  • 14% were applying makeup  (I think that number has to be higher on the morning commute)

Folks, can we just simply drive the car?  That’s not asking too much.

Driving 101: Impatiently Distracted Drivers

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I have mentioned this before in previous posts about driving in Nashville.  The two main issues I see going on with drivers are:  (1) They are impatient and (2) They are distracted.

First, let me talk about distracted driving.  My daughter was recently rear ended by another driver on an exit ramp when the driver stated she looked down to see what her son was watching on YouTube.   An example of the serious issue of distracted driving.  In 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.  The distractions are texting, using the phone, eating/drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, reading (yeah, I’ve seen this one and couldn’t believe it), using navigation systems, watching a video, adjusting audio devices in the car (oops, I’m guilty of this one).

Let’s face it, driving is boring.  But, when we are in the driver’s seat, we need to do one thing:  drive.  It only takes a glance away from the road to have an accident.  Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting.  I have also noticed that talking on the phone is so very distracting even if your eyeballs are physically looking at the road.  People tend to slow down, drift into other lanes and ignore using turn signals.

Avoid distracted driving.  Pay attention to the road and the traffic conditions around you.  No one should text and drive.

Second, there is an epidemic of impatient drivers.  There is one apartment complex we pass on our commute to work where people really do not want to wait on us to pass by.  They will either roll out in front of us, causing us to brake or begin their roll before we pass by them.  People do not want to stop or wait for any reason.  If you are going too slow, they will try to push you out of their way.    If you are trying to turn, drivers behind you don’t want to slow down at all.  They want to keep their same speed regardless how sharp you need to make a turn.  It is disappointing to see people so impatient simply because they are in a rush.  It is just ridiculous how aggressive people can be.  Honking the horn doesn’t help matters.    I find it very irritating when pulling over for emergency vehicles and once they have passed, other drivers pass by too as if I didn’t need to get back on the road myself.

Impatient drivers will do some crazy and risky things on the highways.  If they are going to miss a turn or exit some will take unnecessary chances instead of going to the next exit or taking an alternate route to get to their destination.

We all have somewhere to be.  Let’s just dial it down a notch and get there safely.