So you’ve done the safest thing for your baby and bought one of CarseatBlog’s Recommended Carseats. You’ve installed it correctly and buckled-up your child properly at the pickup line from daycare. What’s next for your most precious cargo? Take a few swigs from the container of vodka in the glove compartment to relax your nerves before the drive home? Roll up the windows and smoke a celebratory cigarette in one hand as you drive away with your baby and pre-schooler in back? Hand the crying infant a rattle comprised of a bottle of pills from mom’s purse? Let your bored 4-year old play with the clever tools in a 24-function utility knife from dad’s pocket? Sound silly? Then why do so many people get their kids buckled-up, then proceed to pick up their cellphone and start dialing a call? Even as they drive through the pick-up line with dozens of other kids running around!
It seems insane sometimes. Watching erratic driving at schools, pediatrician’s office parking lots, near residential parks, you name it. The reason is almost always the same. The driver has a phone in one hand, held up to their ear, completely absorbed in conversation while they totally oblivious to others on the road. Maybe you’ve seen the unthinkable, too? A teen driver with, like, both hands texting on the wheel. Just sayin’! Or, the adult with a phone in one hand, and in the other hand is a cigarette, a sandwich or a hairbrush and barely the palm of one hand resting on top of the wheel. OMG. Some peeps are too important not to be multitasking. Obviously. I think to myself that they will have plenty of time for that other stuff in jail when the other unthinkable event happens. For me, just the presence of my kids in back is enough to be considered distracted driving. Apparently, it’s not enough for many people I see at school drop-offs and pick-ups. KWIM?
In many states, there is now a deterrent. New laws prevent the use of handheld phones entirely, just like many states that have enacted primary child passenger safety laws. Buckle your 2-year old without a carseat or touch that phone while driving and you pay a fine if you are caught. My state of Illinois enacted such a law this year. It may seem harsh to some. In some states where total cellphone bans apply only to young drivers, others may QQ that our teens are now being subject to nanny state restrictions. Whatever. To many parents and safety advocates, the real question is, “What exactly is so important that they are putting at risk their own life, the life of their children, their passengers, pedestrians and those in other vehicles?” Srsly. They can’t possibly wait 5 or 10 minutes to chat so they can safely drive home from their child’s school or other errand? Really? What is preventing them from pulling over to the side of the road or into a parking space to send that text message? Hashtag: Insanity. Distracted Driving kills. Ya Know?
We may never know the answer to why that call can’t wait. Some people will continue to make very bad choices in all sorts of things. And even if you avoid this risky behavior yourself, keep in mind that you’ve armed your teenager with a cellphone and the ability to drive a car, a weapon combination as lethal as any other! IKR? Those who have never raised a teen will lament that parents should just enforce adequate rules and discipline, but it doesn’t always work that easily in reality. Perhaps they were perfect kids and have never experienced a typical teenager. For those whose phone calls are too important to delay, or teens who will find a way make that call to their BFF regardless, there is a better way. Hands-Free. Many new cars have hands-free bluetooth interfaces, though these are often in pricey options packages. While some studies have shown that simply talking on a call is dangerous, newer studies are showing that hands-free calling is at least a somewhat safer alternative, especially when you consider having to pickup the phone and dial a number.