I really really wonder about people texting and driving. Not that they are doing it, but that they are still doing it. America finally learned that drinking and driving was nothing to be taken lightly, and now we have a phenomenon which is far more dangerous, simply because the number of participants has increased by an order of magnitude. In the 1970’s, it took enough kids getting killed on our highways for Mothers Against Drunk Driving to become a force to be reckoned with and to raise the public consciousness. Who’s going to step up this time?
It won’t be another “Mothers” group… they’re the second largest perpetrators of the current traffic menace, trailing only their teenagers. But teens are not expected to see the long view, thus, the clever invention of older humans inserted into their lives to help provide that view and protect them from the more dangerous forms of adolescent myopia. It is Mom, who is playing Words-With-Friends on her I-phone at the stoplight, whose assigned task it is to warn Junior and Juniorette, “Hey, that’s dangerous!” But she can’t put the phone down long enough to do so, as she has to answer, now– and I do mean RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND— Cousin Janet’s text about how old Aunt Doris really is. I am now hearing from teens and tweens who are reaching out to take the phone out of Mom’s hand on the way to school, in an act of self-preservation. When the so-called responsible members of society start acting irresponsibly, who protects us from them?
There is a current ad campaign on TV which demonstrates quite dramatically the risks of texting and driving. Well produced, matter-of-fact, accurate. Much better than the old “this is your brain on drugs” bromides. Kids are starting to get the message. Now if we can get moms on board. I can keep dodging them in traffic, but I don’t know for how long.
At the risk of sounding sexist, this is so far primarily a female adult phenomenon. Women do things together, they share, they communicate. (Guys grunt, which cannot be texted.) Now women get to become virtually inseparable via text, tweet and Facebook, all while at the wheel. Moms who would not feed little Billy store-brand milk strap his little Oshkoshed behind into a car-seat and go charging through traffic while updating their status and “liking” things. But guys, don’t feel left out, real time access to NFL highlights and scrolling headlines and ballscores are there to put us right smack in the same drunkenly weaving boat. Anything foolish they can do, we can do better.
Now, as a man who can remember the advent of the Code-A-Phone, I admit I do not fathom our recent evolution from AT&T’s old “reach out and touch someone” to the more current “reach out and touch everybody you know, right this very second, and never ever ever ever let them go, even for a moment” style of communication. But there is a point at which this current obsession with texting at the wheel moves beyond fodder for a curmudgeonly rant and escalates to a place where someone in the American Household is going to have to start raising his voice and saying, “Dammit, that’s dangerous!”
Gentlemen, time to step up. Or we can just wait for the bodies to pile up like we did the last time we had a problem like this. Just remember whose bodies they are going to be. Last time somebody saw the bodies and did something, it was the Moms. Maybe this time it’s Dad’s turn.
Maybe we could get an earlier start this time.