Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cell Phone Withdrawal - Driving without Distractions - Day 1

Day 1:
My Decision Not To Use the Cell Phone While Driving

Today is the first day I am making an honest attempt at leaving the cell phone alone while driving my car.

Two events made me want to purposefully stop this dangerous practice. They call it Distracted Driving.

My business requires that I travel everyday, from client to client throughout the Lowcountry. I have had a cell phone for several years. Before I got one, I was quite offended at someone in the milk aisle at the grocery talking out into thin air... the days where occasionally ya thought someone was crazy.

The first time I saw a fellow "talking to himself" was on the shuttle train at the Atlanta airport. I thought, "WHO does he think HE is?"

I remember that most of the time, first impressions are right. It is when it hits our spirit at its purest - the first time one has the chance to experience and judge something.

So I am asking that question myself. Who do I think I am?

Two stories that changed my heart and mind:

#1 LOCAL STORY - Mount Pleasant, SC. A friend was t-boned last week at busy Mt. Pleasant intersection. The other driver was "distracted" and did not even see the red light. "I saw a green light, then looked up and saw it was red" (at the point of impact). Only one stopped. My friend dazed and confused wandered to the corner. A man in a truck stopped and asked if she was alright. She was clearly shaken and not sure. The gentleman who let her sit in his truck, ran out to the other vehicle to help the young man still trapped in his car. Once he freed him, he called the police. The police informed him he was the first one to call.

Hundreds of cars went through that intersection and around the accident. If you are familiar with Mt Pleasant, it is the main intersection at the Farmers Market (you know the one). No one stopped, but one. He is my friend's personal angel - he comforted her with the calming words, "Everything is going to be okay". Peace overcame her then and she knew God was at the scene.

No one was killed this time. The Angel of Mercy overruled the Attempt of Death through the method of Distracted Driving. Another angel arrived on the scene. This was highly emotional for both drivers as reported firsthand to this writer- being such a hard hit. Both vehicles were totalled.

Since the moment I heard her news, I have been very aware of my seatbelt (I get lazy).
The next story solidified my decision for no interaction with devices while driving:

#2 NATIONAL NEWS- TV. A news report just this week highlighted a beautiful young life whose was snuffed because of a texting driver. Then statistics showed that a Distracted Driver is a worse driver than a Drunk Driver. This made me wake up > I am worse than a Drunk Driver if I fidget with any gadget in the car while driving.

I have texted in the car while driving before this day. A few times. It is not easy. It reminds me of old friends who could drive with their knees. While texting, there is nothing left to use TO DRIVE (edges of your arm, no eyes while looking down; clearly, it is a stupid move).

It is also vanity to think that I can assume that NOTHING will happen in the one second I look down or away from the road.

As a regular routine, I would talk, take care of business, use the phone as an "in between" device... getting things done while on the way. Until recently, texting had not really been an issue with me while driving, until this summer. With the arrival of constant alerts to my phone that I have a Facebook update, I found myself becoming addicted to being connected to the online community.

My business has increased to the level that, now, texting back and forth to my clientele is normal. So it is easy to quickly update a client whenever I wanted. My dual-slide Helio makes it so easy to get connected >>

It was only with amusing online messages (e.g. me following Stephen Colbert on Twitter -> @stephenathome) that my DESIRE to check-in while driving increased.

HA! No more... today I changed my voice mail to explain that I will no longer be answering the phone while in the car. Only the online readers know the full story.

Results Day 1:
Almost immediately I felt myself reaching for my phone while in the car. I powered it off so that all calls would immediately go to my new voice mail message announcing my Analog Resolution.

I do prefer to leave the phone ON to catch the call log, but on this first day of "fasting technology" - hold on, my phone is ringing -

(25 minutes later)
... On this first day of fasting technology, I wanted to go COLD TURKEY while driving - PHONE OFF.

I give myself a C+. My want and desire were high to reach for the phone while in the car. My boyfriend caught me (and I hadn't realized it) when he asked, "Are you talking while driving?" Oops! I said Yes (just turning out of a neighborhood).

I forced myself to sit in my driveway and make a call when I normally would have been backing out AND talking at the same time. I looked over at my phone (in my purse) a couple of times. It really is like going on a strict diet. I cannot believe how attached I have become to my devices.
(We'll talk about OFC -"Obsessive Facebook Checking" another time).

Today I sensed an old familiar way... it seems like forever since I have driven distraction-free.
My vow of autotechno-celibacy includes all electronic devices available for use in the car.

My two rules for myself are:
I must select a radio station/music selection before in motion.
I will not touch my phone while in motion (unless it is for 911).

I still have more "car time" remaining today. More personal grading tomorrow.
My grade of C has quickly diminished to what a twelve year old in my life would have called EPIC FAIL. I didn't resist texting my boyfriend from the neighborhood cul-de-sac. I had to stop myself multiple times in my thinking to want to call here, or call there while doing after work errands. (So much to do, so little time), but I resisted the calls.

Tomorrow I try again.

I also concluded that one should not:

- Write a deposit slip while racing to the bank with 9 mins to close = NO WRITING!
- Not touch a single fry no matter how tempting = NO FRIES!

What is this crazed thought-process, this behavior so embedded within my thinking -
to alter-occupy my mind and hands while navigating the road?

This will be a difficult practice, but if I retain nothing else in my all-too-short lifestay, it should be that I respect humanity and recognize when I am not being MINDFUL of my fellow man (his health and well-being and my impact on that).

Peace on the road,