I was driving down a major road in our town this weekend when I pulled up next to a car in which the driver was holding her pink smartphone with the same hand as she held the steering wheel, right up at dashboard level. She was actively staring at the screen, scrolling and typing. Feeling guilty myself anytime I take a call without a hands-free headset, I was appalled at this blatant disregard for common sense, safety, and Illinois’ new ban on all texting and handheld phone use while driving. Okay, I reasoned, we’re at a stoplight. And I suppose she could be looking at a GPS map.
But no, as the light turned green, the scrolling and taping motion told me she was not looking at a map, nor did she have any intention of putting the phone down. We stayed pretty level with each other and stopped at two more lights together before she eventually sped away, and any time I glanced over, her posture and the scrolling and tapping hadn’t changed.
Yes, I admit, I am judging her. I would love to be wrong, but I have a very hard time not seeing her as a danger to myself, my children, and everyone else on the road. Because for any of us, it is only a matter of time before our distraction behind the wheel hurts someone.
Which leads me to the PSA I just saw, shared by the website Upworthy. (The PSA is from Volkswagen and was posted by MadOverAds.)
Please, parents, set the example for your children and define a standard of zero tolerance for phone use while driving. Not only is it the law in Illinois, it is unquestionably a matter of safety for your children and for others. I get the temptation — I have to discipline myself frequently to ignore the buzzes and pings coming from my phone while driving. And I have been the passenger with friends, my husband, even my father as the driver started using the phone to look up a restaurant or answer a text (at which point I grab the phone and do it for them). The point is, none of us are good enough drivers to get away with it forever. We simply cannot allow ourselves or those we love to fall to the temptation to use the phone while driving, even “just this once.”