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According to Right Brain

Distracted in the Fast Lane

The Dangers of Distracted Driving
Texting while driving
Published on June 13, 2010 : 15 comments

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OK, I am going to go out on a limb here. I have on a RARE (yes RARE) occasion picked my nose while driving my car. Yes, I am admitting it in writing on the world wide web. I suppose now I cannot run for a political office.

The other day, as I am thinking in my car about this article topic of distracted driving, I look over at a middle aged guy in a truck. We are both stopped at a red light (remember, I have a cute red VW bug that I wrote about in my first article…). He is going after something in his nose. I think GROSS, but who am I to judge? I just confessed to RARELY nose picking only moments ago. The only thing different between me and him is that I make sure no one is looking. I wouldn’t risk it if a car is next to me. He must feel invisible to others in his car or just doesn’t care. Is nose picking distracted driving? Maybe, but I have no trouble keeping my eyes on the road.

So what weird things do people do in cars? The first thing that comes to my mind is the “razor’s edge woman.” Remember the Florida woman who had a car crash—she was shaving her bikini area while driving. EX-husband is in the passenger seat and they are on the way to HER boyfriends house? Here is the CBS News article if you hadn’t heard about it and don’t believe me. I only checked a few websites—no one mentions if she cut herself! OUCH! Enough of that train of thought! I would say that is distracted driving.

Eating while drivingEating while drivingWhy do people eat and drive? I can see taking a sip of your soda while stopped at a traffic light, but eating & driving? Don’t you want to enjoy what your tossing down your gullet? The woman who spilled McDonald’s hot coffee in her lap wasn’t even driving. She was in the passenger seat when her coffee spilled. Why risk it? Eating is definitely distracted driving.

I found this crazy list of 11 things truck drivers have seen drivers do. They would have the best view of other drivers. The top 3 items are: Wardrobe changes, diaper changes, and piano playing! I’m not familiar with this source, but it is an entertaining and scary list.

You all know that I am leading up to cell phones. Did you know: 

In 2008, nearly 6,000 people died in crashes that involved distracted driving. Distracted driving applies to anything that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the steering wheel, or interrupts your concentration while driving.” — Source: 

Nebraska and Iowa as well has many other states have enacted a ban on texting while driving (see the complete list here).

Texting and drivingTexting + driving leads to thousands of car crashes each yearThe number one thing I notice is how many people are on their cell phones talking and driving. I can’t imagine how many are texting, but that is tougher for me to spot—they could just be looking at their radio. PLEASE turn your phone off when you get in the car. That way it won’t go off and distract you. Oprah’s has the No Phone Zone Pledge. As I am writing this, she has had 357,873 people sign up.

I found normally calm, collected Meredith Vieira’s attempt at driving and texting on The Today Show humorous because she swore on national television right before rear-ending a pick-up!

Here is the bottom line. I have two teenagers. One is driving, one will be driving soon. Cell phones and cars are definitely on my mind. I am reminding you (and me) that we can all be smarter and wiser about what we do in the car. I know I can count on all of you not to shave in the car. I know that I will be keeping BOTH hands on the wheel now that I mentioned the whole nose picking thing! 

I can’t wait to hear your feedback. Thanks so much for reading.

(Side note: Lisa Sheppard who writes “Lit & Life” for gave me this article idea!)

AnnDbugzAnn Troe (@AnnieDoodlebugz) is graphic designer and illustrator.


Susan Baird (not verified) says:

June 14, 2010 : 13 years 48 weeks ago

Susan Baird's picture

This one made me smile, Ann! I’m sure all of us have stories of being distracted while driving (ever had a kid throw up in the backseat as you scramble for any possible container you can find to minimize the mess, all while driving in an area where’s there no room to pull off?), and I know we can all relay observations of things we’ve seen others do as we drive past.

I’m with you on the no texting while driving, but I gotta disagree on a complete cell phone ban, especially for those with at least five years of driving experience. Given all of the distractions we deal with inside our vehicles, I don’t think talking on a cell is any more distracting than talking to a companion in the car or rocking out to your favorite song. Part of the skill of driving is learning your personal limits. Some people shouldn’t talk on a cell phone while driving (nor change a radio station nor have more than one other person in the car) because they already don’t take the responsibility of driving seriously enough. But other people know what they can handle and still put the safety of their passengers and other drivers as the top priority.

I love that you’ve broached this topic, and I hope lots of others will share their opinions, too!

AnnDbugz says:

June 14, 2010 : 13 years 48 weeks ago

AnnDbugz's picture

I am VERY lucky - Neither kid has thrown up in the car - Thank god! I hadn’t even thought about that distraction!

Dad (not verified) says:

June 14, 2010 : 13 years 48 weeks ago

Dad's picture

It’s so simple. Two eyes on the road and two hands on the wheel. Those were the instructions I got from my father as he taught me to drive. That was when there was a lot lot less traffic than we have today! With two eyes on the road you don’t miss what you need to see to negotiate traffic. You do miss seeing the nose pickers. Two hands on the wheel takes care of texting and dialing a cell phone but with today’s technology you can have a thing stuck in your ear and do hands off phoning. Iam ambivilant on that. I would just as soon have a driver who is concentrting on the road as opposed to concentrating on a phone conversation or conversation with a passenger. Young drivers definetly should not have passengers in the car with them. Older drivers (over 19) should have at least three people in the car. Two to entertain each other and one at the wheel who drives!!

I like Germany’s rules for drivers. Check that one out.

cpooschke says:

June 15, 2010 : 13 years 48 weeks ago

cpooschke's picture

Great article, as always!

I used to think it was a good idea for teens to be limited on the number of folks in the car with them…until I had teens in the car with ME. Now, I’m more inclined to believe that their friends would not be much of a distraction in most cases, as they’d likely all be sitting quietly in their own seats, disengaged from the warm bodies in the car with them, and texting their OTHER friends the whole way there ;)

AnnDbugz says:

June 15, 2010 : 13 years 48 weeks ago

AnnDbugz's picture

Hah! Great comments Christy! I gotta lean towards Dad’s comment - even when our older teen was driving around just family - any conversation threw him off focus ;-)

So true about teens hanging with a friend, but texting someone else!

Thanks so much for the input.

Susan Baird (not verified) says:

June 15, 2010 : 13 years 48 weeks ago

Susan Baird's picture

Hey, Anne’s dad! I love your comments. You are obviously one of the great dads of the ages, which probably has something to do with why Ann is such a rock star!

AnnDbugz says:

June 15, 2010 : 13 years 48 weeks ago

AnnDbugz's picture

Don’t feed Dad’s ego! At least he isn’t “Fathering” me with this article… He has been pointing out my ‘insinuated’ use of ‘bad’ words ;-)

Finch93 says:

June 15, 2010 : 13 years 48 weeks ago

Finch93's picture

I gotta second Susan, Ann. I love your Dad! Great comments! And great article : )

Jo M. Lynch (not verified) says:

June 16, 2010 : 13 years 48 weeks ago

Jo M. Lynch's picture

Interesting article and thoughts as always Ann… You certainly know how to get one thinking. :)

I had a dog throw up in the car one time while sitting beside me, and I took my eyes off the road, completely lost track of the fact I was in a car and I ran two other vehicles off the highway as I barely missed a big signpost. (No one got hurt, but 3 of us had a big scare) I learned my lesson from that. Today when my dog throws up in the car, I don’t even turn around. I just keep the backseat covered with a towel when I have to take the dogs out in the car…

My point is, I NEVER forgot that for just those few seconds, I had no idea I was in the car.. My focus turned completely to the dog. If you had told me that was possible I wouldn’t have believed it, but truly, I did not know I was driving for those few seconds. All I was doing was trying to clean up the dog and the mess. Very, very frightening. Sooooooo, from firsthand knowledge I do know that becoming distracted is easier than it may seem. I would never text in a car, but I would answer a phone call if from someone important. I think we drive somewhat on auto pilot, though I do feel the phone can also be quite distracting. I think while talking on a phone we can be transported to the place or person we are conversing with, so I’m not a big fan of that either.

Distractions while driving come from many places, and I think the simple act of making the law, NO TEXTING, would at least eliminate that one distinctive distraction. To me, this seems like common sense. Hat’s off to the states who have brought this into law, and I hope soon all the states join in.

Thanks as always Annie for bringing to the forefront a topic that touches so many of us, and in turn could save a life…


Elizabeth Hilpipre (not verified) says:

June 16, 2010 : 13 years 48 weeks ago

Elizabeth Hilpipre's picture

Great article. I have to admit I have sent a text while sitting at a stop light. I have been a passenger in a car while the driver sent a text and I felt uncomfortable. After expressing my concern the driver stopped texting and now follows the no texting while driving law.

Cell phones aren’t the only distraction though. I was once rear ended at a stop light and the first thing the women said when she got out of her car was, “I was messing with the radio and didn’t even see you.” If she was only messing with her radio I can’t imagine what her driving is like when she’s on her cell phone. Another example would be when you are the designated driver and you have to listen to a car full of drunks. Yes, they get home safely and don’t harm anyone, but concentration levels are on high alert when three people are trying to describe the fastest way to get home.

As time goes on and as technology advances people will become even more distracted then they are now. I’m just waiting for the day the car starts driving itself and we won’t have to worry about the other drivers on the road.

OK Brother (not verified) says:

June 17, 2010 : 13 years 48 weeks ago

OK Brother's picture

What ?? You’ve not ever had a kid puke in your car? Well, it’s not too late. Now that the cat’s out of the bag, its only a matter of time. Failing that, you have some young neice/nephews that could grant you the experience.

Another great article. Keep it up!

Glad I had breakfast before checking email this morning.

(Sent from my mobile phone, while driving, two knucles deep into “cleansing”) ;-)

AnnDbugz says:

June 17, 2010 : 13 years 48 weeks ago

AnnDbugz's picture

WOW! I am so grateful for everyone’s input and stories! I feel like I will be a much more aware driver from now on just from your comments. Thanks so much!
(I also love the ‘throwing up’ issues ;-)

mamashepp says:

June 24, 2010 : 13 years 47 weeks ago

mamashepp's picture

Yea! You did it! I have seen several studies recently that show that people that are on their phones—even hands free—are just as bad at driving as people that are legally drunk. I’m always horrified when I’m following someone for 15 or 20 mins and they’re on the phone the whole time.

Kathy (not verified) says:

July 8, 2010 : 13 years 45 weeks ago

Kathy's picture

Ann, Didn’t you say, just last night, you can’t talk and drive?? If I remember correctly, there was no phone involved. :)

AnnDbugz says:

July 8, 2010 : 13 years 45 weeks ago

AnnDbugz's picture

LOVED all the conversation we had and YES you were VERY distracting passenger ;-D
Hugs to you!

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