Saturday, October 18, 2014

Keep Your Eyes on the Road: Turn Off that Phone.

I used to drive to my law job dominated by email communication.  The Blackberry siting on my desk used to wink its little blue light at me every time an email arrived. At other times, it would vibrate gently in my pocket: check me, check me. 

Checking emails in real time becomes a habit. It's addictive. It keeps spam under control. It lets you communicate with clients timely. Like Pavlov's German Shepard and his drool, when that buzz goes off, or the little blue light blinks, I reach for my phone. I do it when I wake up in the middle of the night, I do it first thing in the morning, I do it all day long. I did it driving in my car. 

When I got an I-phone it became worse. Much worse. Now, in addition to email, there's Facebook, and Instagram, and New York Times updates, and Neue Zurcher Zeitung updates, and Twitter feeds--a continuous stream of stimulus response. 

Over time, I became aware, this is a bad idea when driving. I try not to. But I cheat. I make exceptions. Just a quicky while waiting at the light, just a glance on the Freeway when no cars are around. Don't do it 

I was helped with my predicament when my job moved to the City and I began to commute by streetcar. Now I seldom drive. I was also lucky. I always managed to look up in time, to correct the car back into its lane. I escaped scot free. 

Not everyone is so lucky. One second to the next: everything can change. To drive this home for us, Werner Herzog has directed  a fine documentary about four tragic accidents caused by texting, from Wisconsin, Indiana, Vermont, and Utah.  

If you've not seen this film, you owe it to yourself. It will give you a jolt to get real. You owe it your potential victims.  See this film, it's just 35 minutes. Turn off that phone when you drive.  For real.


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