Friday, July 16, 2010

Five Things on Friday - Distracted Driving Edition

So, yesterday morning, I was watching the news while I slept, and they were talking about how yesterday was the first day ever of enforcing the new No Texting while Driving Law in the great state of Kentucky. I support this. Texting and driving is bad. Studies show it's worse than drunk driving. Although, I still side with the Mythbusters in that I can drop the damn phone, but I can't just stop being drunk, so I'm not sure it's a fair comparison.

Then when I was driving home I was trying to surf the internet on my phone to find the phone number for the water park where my kid left one shoe. I'm not even sure how one manages to leave one shoe at a water park, but I was working hard to track it down. It occurred to me that perhaps this was more dangerous than texting. I stopped and called 411. $2, sure. But on the other hand, no death and destruction. Plus, no ticket. I'm pretty sure they'd count it, after all.

This morning, I had a whole different distracted driving experience. Almost as soon as we get in the car in the morning, Maren takes off her shoes and crosses her legs in the carseat. Proof positive that my need to constantly have a leg under me is not a bad habit, but some sort of weird genetic imperative.

Anyway, we had Johnny Cougar on the radio and Maren was grooving to "Jack and Diane." She had her nightie on and her bare feet pulled up in the seat and was bobbing her head, dancing like a fool while momma sang a little ditty at the top of her lungs. It struck me as so beautiful and cute and silly and amazing and Kentucky all at once and I *had* to have a picture. I could have pulled over, but then she would have started trying to pose or take my camera away. So, in a stroke of absolute insanity, I started trying to photograph my daughter over my shoulder with my phone WHILE DRIVING.

Sometimes the insanity of these decisions doesn't strike me until a bit late. I'm good now. I'll never do it again. Lesson learned. Good thing no one (including piece of crap car) was injured.

In the meantime, it got me thinking about the things that I've done that are stupider than driving and texting. And, because I am totally looking to get arrested this weekend (please, no, officer, it's a blog, it's made up, I swear) (no, readers, really, it's aaaalllll true, I swear) and because I'm sure that some of you have never so much as taken your hands from ten and two, but some of you will make me look like driver of the year, I am going to share my worst distracted driving sins.

1. Grooming - I know people who do their make-up in the car. I may or may not be related to someone who may or may not have used to own a curling iron that plugged into your cigarette lighter. It's not like I do that. I just, sometimes, brush my hair in the car. While driving with my knees. I don't do it nearly as much as I used to. But it takes both hands to brush my hair because I have this wicked sensitive scalp, like a baby and I can't take hair brushing without holding my scalp to minimize pulling.

2. Dancing - Once, long ago, before the state let me drive, I was in a car with Suze and her dad. I may have mentioned this before. There was a long, sort of mocking monologue about people who sing/dance/talk to themselves in the car. I do all of these to a great degree, but I've never gotten over thinking, "Please, don't let Suze's dad see me do this." It's distressing. But I digress. Dancing in the car isn't usually that big of a deal. A little shoulder wiggle, a little head bob. But I have, on occasion had a carful of people who were all dancing together with enough oomph to make the car wiggle around on the road. Bad. I've mostly outgrown this. Mostly.

3. Reading - What can I say, sometimes you literally cannot seem to put a book down. I've been a lot better about this since the kids were born, because even I (the idiot who didn't figure out that photography and driving don't mix until my hand was clicking the stupid the button) know that this is terrible, terrible behavior. But, sometimes I cannot resist cracking the book open on the passenger seat at stoplights. Or bad traffic. Wow. There was once a wreck on the Interstate and I read like 100 pages in 4 miles.

4. Dining - Let's face it, there are just some foods that are better to nibble behind the wheel than others. For instance, fast food hamburgers - little mess, paper wrapper, one hand hold. Good to go. Taco salad - fork required, dressing dripping, cracking shell - bad plan. Through the years, I have mostly figured this out. When you are driving, it matters less what you want and more what you can handle. Knowing this has saved me a couple of wrecks and about half a head of lettuce down my bra. Let's just say I learned the hard way.

5. Ranting - Often the course of my conversations with myself will take a dramatic and violent turn. Often, I hold my temper in the company of people who are really driving me over the edge with nothing more than the promise to myself to say EVERYTHING that I want to say, only by myself and on the way home. On these occasions, my wit is sharp, my tongue is acid and if words would kill, the subject of my rage would be in a fridge in the morgue. Except that they can't hear me. This is good for me on many levels. I don't burn many bridges, I keep my falsely earned reputation as a "nice girl," and I vent my frustration and rage before the pressure builds to submarine proportions and I blow steam from my ears as my hair lights afire. The down side is that sometimes I become so intent on telling the person who isn't there what a face melting moron that they are, I kinda forget things like traffic laws. Especially speed limits. What can I say, it just feels better to yell at 70 than it does at 35.

Okay, your turn! Share. Repent. Laugh. We'll all assume that this is stuff you would never, never do anymore and that you have totally grown out of, shall we. As you are currently assuming about everything written above. Seriously. Occasional present tense is for dramatic purposes only!


Jenn-Jenn, the Mother Hen said...

I sing (at the top of my lungs) and dance (shakin' it like a polaroid picture) while behind the wheel. I drive a teeny tiny little car, so it winds up dancing with me across the road. This embarrasses the crap out of my kid (all the more reason to do it).

I used to do my AP homework on the way to school while driving my junior and senior years of high school. I don't go that far any more, but I have been known to keep a book in the car for traffic jams, construction delays and stop lights.

I have many many pictures of my kid and/or dog that I have snapped with my cell phone while driving. Bad thing to do, I know, but still...

I have a bad habit of texting or composing/reading e-mails on my phone at stop lights. I don't always get done with what I'm saying before the light turns green. At that point, I TRY to put the phone down and wait for the next light. I live in a big city. There are a lot of lights.

I have a distracted driving habit down here in SA that I never had to worry about in Ky. I get distracted while driving when I see billboards, road signs, advertisements (and sometimes graffiti) in Spanish. I'm one of those people who just can't pass something by without reading it. Of course, I have managed to pick up a bit of Spanish, and I can read it and understand it if you give me long enough. Sometimes I get so intent on trying to figure out the Spanish billboard/sign/graffiti that I don't pay as much attention to the road as I should. This causes some very distracted driving and I have narrowly avoided a big oopsie while driving because of this too many times to count.

Jessi said...

Jenn - I think what really made the picture taking so dangerous today was trying to do it all covert. It's a concentration issue for me. Plus the fact that it's a newish phone and I'm not totally used to the camera, yet. Hence the finger.

Orlandel said...

First of all, the person you may or may not be related to with the made for your car curling iron is not me!

Secondly, the reason I drive so much is because my DH is constantly looking off the sides of the road for wild turkey or deer (depending on the season). Any likely looking bush or random tree limb will have him cruising off the road trying to see if it is or isn't an animal. It usually isn't, but we have several dents anyway (one where he forgot he was pulling a trailer and backed up to make sure it really was a dead tree and not a monster buck).

Sage said...

Toss this number into your phone... in mine it's under "Info"... 800-373-3411. There's an ad pitch with this, but it's totally free (and no, it doesn't sign you up for anything or crazy stuff like that).

I also have an "ICE" number... those are my two entries in the "I" letter.

Suze said...

Disciplining kids in the back seat while driving. Like when you're on a long or long-ish trip and they are having trouble sharing toys and you have to take from one and give to the other. Same with distributing snacks, drinks, and picking up stuff they dropped on the floor. Yes, sometimes they have to wait, but if you've got 30 minutes until it's time to stop, what can you do?

Jessi said...

Sage - Thanks. My mom keeps trying to give me the number she uses, but it won't work from my phone for some reason.

Suze - Oh, yeah. I've done that one too. Especially the picking things up. Brynna is constantly dropping crayons and books and magazines, and I can pick it up or listen to her whine for a half hour. Not much of a choice.

Anonymous said...

On a moving trip from Arkansas to Kentucky I somehow, I don't know how because I have the patience of a saint;), got peeved at my husband.

I was driving my car and he was driving a 22 foot moving truck and pulling his car. It was my responsibility to buy our lunches in Nashville.

I got him a salad (with a packet of dressing), a baked ziti (which could only be eaten with fork and knife) and a bread stick. Needless to say, his eating-urge vs driving-need panned out to be sweet revenge for yours truly.

Jessi said...

Anony - that is, indeed, sweet revenge. On the other hand, I just never, ever let my husband drive. :)