Monday, January 22, 2007

Driving Efficiently, Not Smartly

I read an interesting Reuters story online this morning while driving into work. The story caught my attention since I just wrote about drivers who don’t pay attention to what their satellite navigation systems are telling them to do. This story says that a survey was recently released showing that 81 percent of our fellow Americans (but it’s certainly not any of us reading or writing this) perform other tasks while driving. While I tend to view it as driving efficiently, others view it as not exactly the safest of driving practices.

The study by Nationwide Mutual Insurance says that drivers eat, mess with their music, do makeup, shave, exchange seats with other passengers, watch movies and yes – nurse their children while driving. Although in the case of the baby nurser, I don’t know how much driving they’d actually be doing. That’s downright illegal, I think. If you are nursing a child while driving then you either have amazing bodily contortion, stretching ability (of which I do not wish to further discuss) or you’ve taken the child out of their car seat, and they are stretched across your lap in the front seat. If that mom (I don’t think I have to state why I know it’s a mom and not a dad for obvious reasons) has to slam on the brakes, that’ll sadly be her baby’s last supper. It’s ‘utterly’ wrong…sorry.

Doing the other stuff while driving is certainly not bright, but we all know it happens every day. Here in Southern California, I’m not sure that efficient driving (my term only) is that dangerous for the simple fact that most of us get onto our lovely congested highways and never get into third gear, provided we’re lucky enough to get into second. If you are a regular participant in the hell that is known as commuting (defined as driving two-hours one way over a distance that should only take 30 minutes), then you could easily set up and play an entire game of Monopoly with a commuter in the lane next to you or a fellow passenger without every endangering yourselves. OK, I’m exaggerating. The game wouldn’t be monopoly; it would be Pictionary.

I don’t feel that American drivers should be accused of watching movies while driving. What did everyone expect when they started installing DVD players into our cars and SUVs in the first place? They probably don’t think we’re using our cup holders, moon roofs or seat warmers, either. I’ve tried to shave with my electric razor once, but it wasn’t a very close shave, so I won’t bother trying that again. I see ladies applying mascara all the time while driving. Do you know how tempting it is to pull up along side of them and gesture that they missed a spot? My only concern is that their insurance might find me at fault when they slam into the back of a minivan because they aren’t paying attention.

When I was younger, I only changed seats with other passengers while stopped at a red light. I feel so stupid that it never occurred to me that we could engage in that game while moving. I’ll have to try it because it sounds like a lot of fun. Unfortunately, it might take too long getting Lucy and Ethel out of their car seats to participate. Maybe I’ll grab the company’s carpool van for the day.

It appears that the things we’re most guilty of while driving would have to be eating or car stereo related. Why just last night coming home from dinner, I mastered the art of driving in the dark on the freeway in 50 mile per hour wind gusts while changing CDs on my stereo. I should also admit that I got extra style points since I had to bend down and pick up the six CDs I dropped while trying to do all of this. I’m proud to admit that I only swerved once and my tires only hit the lane’s reflector bumps; they never actually crossed into the other lane. Now try that at home.

Oops, green light. I gotta go…

11 comments:

Violet said...

I'm the opposite. I won't even turn the windscreen wipers on until I've pulled over first.

mist1 said...

I had an interesting encounter with my local police tonight. Maybe I'll post about it.

Josie said...

I used to have a very good friend who played football for the Hamilton Tigercats (a Canadian football club). Anyway, he had a TV set on the dashboard and used to watch the football game while he was driving. And he would get really involved in the game. It was a truly frightenening experience.

Josie

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Nearly everyone in San Francisco drives with a cell phone clamped on. Often they are eating as well, and I have also seen the shavers and the make up artists. Of course a hand is needed for flipping birds at other cars, and many small dogs sit on drivers' laps, yapping in transit. I have not observed nursing mothers behind the wheel, but fellacio while driving is not exactly safe sex. In broad (snicker) daylight, too.

The musical chairs game seems to be popular here. It's amazing there are not more fatal crashes.

Skittles said...

When my daughter had gotten her permit, but not yet her license.. and after she had mastered shifting gears in the old Bronco II, I made sure she could go to McD drive-thru, get her order, then eat while she was driving. ;)

Odat said...

I applaud you for your multitasking and am happy got thru it safely..hehe. I won't drive in front of or behind someone i see doing something other than driving!
Peace

Pickled Olives said...

I am pretty good at drinking coffee, talking on the cell phone, yelling at kids while laughing to comedy on satelite radio...

SGT DUB said...

I remember loosing a 32oz Big Gulp when I had to get into a pursuit, dang small cup holders.

SGT DUB said...

My partner that night remembers it too.

kate said...

Ok I am totally guilty of doing some of that stuff,,,I even program my GPS while driving (which is not a safe thing to do!) The funny bit is that I have never caused an accident... never gotten a ticket... never totalled a car. My husband, the self proclaimed better driver of the 2 of us... has! Hummmmm

PARLANCHEQ said...

The only person I know who can say they've never eaten while driving is my father. And that's only because he is so uptight about his flashy car that no food is allowed inside.