THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

Don’t be a Ketchup stain on the highway

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Another fitting vanity plate.  Photo by Mike Hartley

Another fitting vanity plate.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I see in the news, a report from AAA that basically says teen distracted driving is involved in 58% of accidents they have. Well I think that is pretty good because its got to be near 100% for adults. OK, I’ll take 10% off that for booze. Using your smart phone or tablet or computer going down the road has got to be one of the worst things I’ve seen in my 4+ decades of driving.

Even police can’t do it and they are some very good drivers. I wish I had the camera on when a Montgomery county trooper I was next to and behind was weaving in and out of lanes while running something on his laptop the other day.  All of us see many instances of people either causing near misses or accidents from using the phone or texting or browsing while they THINK they are driving.

Actually as in most cases in life, statistics like the one released yesterday are meaningless when people are dying on the roads.

My first experience was (way back) when it was too expensive for companies to give everyone a cell phone which was really a brick. So they gave us beepers. My career has been one where I’ve been on-call a good bit of my life so having an electronic umbilical cord attached was done by my employers as soon as the technology was available. I never had a CB radio so about the most distracting thing in my car before that was the radio and that Hurst 4 speed.

Anyway you had a little beeper with a one line display of what might have been 15 numbers max. Just that little task of looking at that number while going down the road was enough to distract me I learned. Of course I then had to look for a pay phone to call back within 5 minutes and sometimes turn around and head back to work if I was on my way home or in the middle of any other activity. Can you believe they had pay phones at one time?

But I believe its more than just the act of looking at the device. Its the concentration that is taken away. I know that I can’t talk to work going down the road and troubleshoot a serious issue without complete concentration. And driving at the same time would be like putting a car on autopilot without an autopilot. Very stupid. And you know what, that is why I don’t believe that Hands Free really makes a substantial improvement.

And before you pass judgment on me as an inept nerd who can only do one thing at a time. I’m very good at multitasking. And I can and sadly say I have certainly mixed these activities in the past but I’ve been very good for a long time now and concentrate on driving only. Now I know some might say there is a lot of difference between saying hello honey, I’m 5 minutes from home and I’ll see you then in 10 seconds time vs. having an hour conversation going down the road. And that difference is that your chances of having someone step out in front of you or brake sharply are greatly reduced but what if your number comes up in those 10 seconds and your distracted?

All I know is a lot more people will be maimed and killed before we take action as a society change this behavior. And that is very bad. It’s leading to road rage and more unsafe driving. Its going to cost us all more for insurance. Its going to destroy lives. Driving is tough enough without distractions.

I’m always amazed at how many cars in this county (Howard County Maryland) have the bumper stickers that reads “Choose Civility”. Kind of ironic in a way. While out of our cars we would never think of killing someone, but while in our cars, we don’t give it a second thought.

I was waiting to get a haircut at Sal’s today and saw two things that made me sad. I watched a Mom who brought her two young sons in for a haircut pretty much have her attention in her smart phone. I saw the kids looking over at her, but her face down with the exception of telling Mike how short to cut her son’s hair. For I cherish the time I remember going for a haircut with my son and not doing anything else but watching and smiling.

Then I saw another Mother walking out of one of the stores through the lot with her young son with the phone in her ear. And she clearly wasn’t watching her child in a parking lot, especially a busy one like Village Green. Not that he did anything wrong but you could tell he could take a few wrong steps easily and she wouldn’t have noticed at all. Not that my attention with my own children has been the greatest at all times or that I’m slamming Mothers here today, Men are equally guilt I’m guessing.

And to top it off the ride home provided the weaving driver texting or playing a game but had that smart phone rocking along with their car. And yet another one face down with a green light. I did my standard, I counted to 3 and then hit the horn lightly to wake up the individual but not piss them off (that is a very fine line with some people). By the way I used to count to 5 but discovered that was just another way to waste 2 seconds because it didn’t matter to the person in front of me looking at the weather or stocks or news or blog or texting their girlfriend/boyfriend that the light was green.

All I know is I talk to my children about it. I try to not use the phone or apps or anything while I’m driving at all. And now I’ve written my first manifesto on the subject of technology and driving. There is a time and a place for those tools. Please make that choice wisely.

Who knows, I’ve been looking at those GoPro cameras and being I do a fair amount of traveling on some of the worst roads in the area, I might have to put some of the more entertaining drivers up here.



Author: Mike Hartley

With a lifetime and a half in the Newspaper industry I'm preparing for my retirement career as an Artist, Writer, Photographer and Video content provider. I'm a proud father of two wonderful children and I'm still married to the first girl I fell in love with and probably only one that would have me.

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