Yesterday I was driving over a local bridge in a bad storm. I snapped a quick picture of what I was seeing on the road with my phone. It took a second and my eyes never left the road. Anyone seeing the picture could tell that there was no oncoming traffic and no cars ahead of me.
When I got to my appointment a few blocks away, I posted the picture on Posterous with a little note about the storm. The photos then went to Twitter and to Facebook.
Almost immediately I got a message through Facebook. The writer said that he hoped I had taken the photo from the passenger seat.
I responded by saying that it would be very dangerous to operate a motor vehicle from the passenger seat — it would be too hard to reach the pedals and the steering wheel. My response was a bit over the line and he was right. I should not make light of it and it isn’t funny.
It isn’t a good idea to take photos while driving. It isn’t a good idea to send text messages or e-mail while driving, and it isn’t a good idea to read them, either.
I remember how terrified I was a few months back as I was riding in a car going down a steep, winding road while the driver read and sent text messages from her iPhone.
I worry that I will never see her again because she will die in a fiery crash when she hits a patch of ice on one of those roads while she is sending a text message or maybe she will be hit by a car that she did not see coming at her because she was looking at her phone.
Talking on a cell phone while driving isn’t safe either — it is a distraction. I minimize the risk by using a Bluetooth device, so I never have to touch the phone. Yet I have noticed that while I am talking on the phone and driving, I tend to drive too slowly and I have missed my exit and have actually gotten lost. …CONTINUED
I know a mother whose son complained about how she sends text messages while driving. He probably learned in school about the dangers of texting while driving. She laughed about it, but in my opinion she should be charged with child endangerment.
If she were drinking while driving and got caught with a child in her car, the consequences would be severe. Yet what she did was just as dangerous.
There is a lot of evidence that talking on the phone or sending text messages while driving causes accidents — in fact it is illegal to text while driving in 17 states. According to a study by Car and Driver Magazine, driving while "texting" slows reaction time more than driving while under the influence of alcohol.
These days I pull over a lot. I work mostly in the city and it isn’t hard to pull over to the side of the road or even stop in a parking lot to respond to a phone call or to use e-mail.
I hear my BlackBerry making a lot of noise as the messages come in, and sometimes my curiosity gets the best of me so I pull over and start reading. It isn’t hard to do. Most of the miles I drive are driven alone, but if I got into an accident I could hurt someone else or maybe kill someone’s child.
Bragging about our ability to drive and text is just plain stupid. The same applies to taking pictures like I did, driving after having too many drinks, and all of the other things we do while driving that are distracting or that compromise our reaction times. Sending e-mail while driving with children in the car is really stupid and it sets a very bad example. It also says that e-mail is more important to the parent than the children’s safety.
If you text, e-mail, take pictures or surf the Net while driving, please stop it. None of it is worth your life or the life of the driver and passengers in the car you hit.
People cannot be replaced, and there isn’t anything on my phone or on the Internet that is as important. Instead of hanging up and driving, maybe we should do nothing but drive when operating our cars.
Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.
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