Photo by: Jim Legans

Please Promise Not to Use Your Cell Phone While Driving

by Karen B. Jones
Photo by: Jim Legans

I’m talking about Moms who are so careful about their kids. They baby-proof their homes until there’s nary a sharp corner or exposed outlet to be found. They pull all the strings out of their kids jackets and hoodies. They cut everything the child eats into quarter inch pieces to avoid any possible choking hazards. They never let anyone post pictures of their kids online for fear that a child molester might see it and somehow track them down. They carry disinfecting wipes and gels everywhere to sanitize the child every time they touch something that may be contaminated. They shop around for just the right, highest safety-rated child safety seat for the car, no matter how expensive. They agonize over whether or not to immunize their kids and fret over every illness or injury they acquire.

And yet, these same mothers think nothing of driving around town while using their cell phones. Do any of them really understand the danger they’re putting themselves, their kids, and anyone on the road with them in when they do this? Talking on the cell phone while driving, hands-free or not, increases your risk of an accident as much as driving drunk! Texting is even worse! Think about it. Whenever someone’s doing something stupid in traffic, don’t you usually see a cell phone in their hand? Often they never even realize how close they came to an accident until they actually wreck the car. They just go drifting down the road oblivious to everything else. Well, believe it or not, when you drive while using your cell, that person is you!

There have been several studies proving this. But people don’t want to believe it because, if they did, they’d have to change their behavior. What conversation or text message is important enough to risk the health and even lives of you, your passengers, and everyone else you’re sharing the road with?

But of course, they think they’re so much more careful than everyone else. They can hold a phone conversation and drive at the same time. It’s not dangerous for them. They’re careful. Maybe they restrict their cell phone usage to when they’re driving on slow, familiar routes. But is that any better? So, then they’re impaired when driving on residential streets where kids, pets, and other pedestrians may be crossing. Or maybe they only use their cell phone on the long stretches of highway where they don’t have to change lanes or merge for miles. Is that better? Driving impaired when one wrong move could cause them to hit another vehicle at speeds that could kill someone? But, of course, they’re careful. It won’t happen to them.

There are so many distractions around us all the time. Given that, why on earth would you voluntarily add the unnecessary, additional distraction of a cell phone to the din? It could be the one last distraction that tips you over the edge and makes you plow into that pickup truck in front of you or that kid riding his bike.

Think of all the inconveniences you go through to keep your kids safe on a regular basis. All that baby-proofing and vigilance. All that to protect them from dangers that are, let’s face it, fairly remote. Is restraining yourself from using your cell phone while driving any more unreasonable than that? And as a bonus, you’re not just protecting yourself and your passengers, but you’re protecting everyone else who is out there on the road with you. Isn’t that worth the minor inconvenience?

Remember, your phone does store the number of whoever called you and they can always leave a voice mail message. So, you can pull into a parking lot and call them back within 2 or 3 minutes if it’s really important. Try not to even glance at the caller ID unless you‘re stopped. Just like texting, anything that takes your eyes off the road is dangerous. Especially if it’s habitual and you don’t think about what’s going on around you before you do it. It’s best to just wait until you’re stopped to check it. Think how embarrassed you’d be if you caused an accident because you were checking your caller id or a text message. Even worse than embarrassment if the accident was a bad one. Could you live with yourself if checking your phone resulted in an accident that killed or crippled someone?

For God’s sake, put down the phone and drive! Pull over to text or talk! Make a promise to your kids that their safety is more important to you than any cell phone conversation!

Some reference materials:

Karen B. Jones is a web developer turned children’s book author and illustrator. She lives in Olathe, KS with her husband and two daughters.

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It is illegal to drive and use a mobile phone in the UK. Hands free sets are acceptable, but evidence still shows that the driver can be distracted by this. Frankly I'm shocked it's still allowed in the USA!

It's sad that we still have to explain this to people. My best friends mother was killed by a driver on a cell phone. That's right, she is dead. The lady who killed her is a mother of 3 and now here children are with out a mother as well, she went to prison for vehicular manslaughter.

We're from England and have lived in the States for the last 8 years. 6 years in Oregon where hands free devices are the law... but now we're in Texas where anything goes. It's my personal pet peeve that people not only talk on their cell phones... but TEXT as well!! I've been known to shout out my car window at people and now my 3yr old will shout 'get off your phone' at anyone he sees driving a car while on their cell...

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In Spain is also ilegal, hands free devices are fine, Think that you also talk with the people which you are driving with.
Is good to be as much focused as possible, and usually a car accident happens when you are very distracted or too confident.
Drive save!!

Individual liberty is precious. Safety cannot be guaranteed, regardless of how much our liberties are infringed upon in pursuit of the elusive safe roadway. Those who would trade freedom for safety will end up with neither, as has happened with the existing cellular telephone restrictions...

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Thank You, Than You! I think most people nowadays think they are so good at multitasking that they think nothing of this... until they themselves, or someone in their close circle, is affected. This citation is from an article in the NYT about multitasking and focusing...
"While many people say multitasking makes them more productive, research shows otherwise...

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This little "rant" would have been more compelling if you'd actually backed it up with statistical data and referenced studies. I wholeheartedly agree with the fact that texting while driving is tantamount to reckless endangerment. Even talking on your cell phone can be dangerous for many people...

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I totally agree. It always baffles me that people are afraid of things like flying in airplanes, yet drive like idiots when you are so much more likely to die in a car accident. People can be so cautious about things that are incredibly unlikely to happen yet don't protect themselves in the car.

It's illegal in Connecticut and I'm so glad. It still happens, but I do think it is a deterrent for some people. I have a friend who was hit by a driver on a cell phone. She broke both legs, ankles and the arm/wrist of one hand. The other driver died.

Don't talk and drive. It can wait until you pull over to talk wiithout driving.

Thank you for this incredible commentary. Months ago when I first started the no text and talking while driving practice, it was hard. The movie Seven Pounds really forced me to stop. Now, I tell people to wait while I park. Thanks to Oprah and other people who are making a campaign of it. It makes the road safer for everyone!

God Bless You All!

Driving in my car with 2 kids is way more distracting that talking on the phone.

I am very guilty of talking while driving and I do have a handsfree device that I will start using more. I know it is very dangerous because when I sit in the car with my DH he is not 100% focused on his driving while on the phone. I know Oprah did a show on driving while talking and she is very against it. I think she has a petition going around that you wont drive and talk. I wish it would be a heftier fine or something to get the point across to people...

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Cell phone usage is illegal in New Jersey, USA, as well, but I see people doing it ALL the time.... Even mom driving preschoolers. You bring out a good point about how these mom's take every possible precaution for their kid's safety otherwise. It's PRIDE plain and simple. These people take pride in what they're doing because they believe they are so skillful because they can talk on the phone and drive at the same time. How do I know? Because I used to do it, too...

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Thanks for this article. After reading it, I've made a new resolve to not use my cell while driving. Your point about taking all the other safety measures (yes, I have the pricey Britax carseats), and not this one made so much sense. Thanks again!

I do use my cell phone when driving but I use my blue tooth which is a hands free ear piece and I live in NJ. The law here is no talking on cell while driving and trust me I learned the hard way with an $130.00 ticket for it.

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