Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Make 2012 Distraction-Free

"Wear more red lipstick."

When I decided to limit my New Year's resolutions to one simple idea each year, that was what I started with. Last year it was the slightly more ambitious "Learn to bake a decent homemade chocolate chip cookie." My husband particularly enjoyed that one.

If you're searching for your own resolution this year, why not make it "Give up distracted driving"? Regular readers of this blog don't need to be reminded of the dangers of talking or texting while driving--but just in case you need a refresher you can find a nice summary here on the US government's distracted driving website. (I find it especially compelling to remember that using a cell phone--even hands-free--is like driving drunk.)

Driving used to be a time when we were safe from outside distractions, but now we feel obligated to use driving time "productively." It reminds me of a vintage ad for washing machines I saw once that showed a housewife relaxing with a drink in a lounge chair while the laundry ran. "Take a break while the washer does the work," the ad urged. But of course, instead of relaxation, that "found" time was only used to complete an ever-growing list of other chores and household obligations.

This year, I urge you reclaim your driving time for its intended purpose: driving. "But I need that time to return calls!" many argue. Yet a mere decade ago, we somehow found the time to return those calls outside of the car. As the old Celtic saying goes, "When God made time, he made enough of it." If your day is so full that you can't do everything without distracted driving, perhaps you need to be more realistic about what you can accomplish in a single day.

It's been two years since I resolved to stop talking on my phone car, and while I can't claim absolute perfection (I'm an advocate, not a saint), gone are the days of long conversations while driving. And you know what? I don't miss them at all. Now my lengthy commute is a time for quiet, or contemplation, or listening to good music. Try it for a few months, and I bet you'll see that distracted driving isn't as necessary as you thought it was. Who knows, you might even end up with a little more relaxation in your new year.


  1. That sounds like a great resolution. I find even Bluetooth distracting because your mind is still focused on something else besides driving. Why not just drive?

  2. I understand the temptation to talk and drive, but what you've observed has been shown in multiple studies: it's the "cognitive distraction" that matters when it comes to driving, and that happens whether or not you're holding an actual phone in your hand.