Drivers Untamed

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By Kristen Wagner

Cell phone use while driving is now universal. But exactly what else is happening behind the wheel that may make you cringe and shy away from the driver’s seat for a while? Texting, eating, shaving, dancing,  singing, applying makeup, consuming alcoholic beverages, lifting weights—oh, and that’s not all of it. There’s much, much more.

An article by Claire Martin on editorial.autos.msn.com helps us understand that we need to be aware of our surroundings at all times. State troopers in Maine “observed a woman watching an episode of Gilmore Girls on her laptop while speeding down the Main Turnpike.” Passing motorists are reporting men lifting weights while driving, and women applying polish to their toenails that are hanging out of their windows sitting in traffic. Although it may sound amusing and ridiculous, it’s absolutely dangerous and hazardous not only for the driver committing the actions, but also for everyone else on the roads.

According to a journal entitled Brain Research, when the brain is multi-tasking it gives priority to the skill that is more deeply ingrained. This means that since we’ve learned to talk before we’ve learned how to drive, our brain is powering the conversation instead of the road. Sound dodgy? It is. Not only are cell phone users at risk of accidents caused by impaired peripheral vision, but so are those of us that participate in the several different distracting activities that we do while driving.

According to www.safeteens.com, “texting took a driver’s focus away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds- enough time to travel the length of a football field at 55 mph.” Technology is very appealing in this day and age, but we need to find our boundaries. Text messaging, iPod use, and other distractions have been proven to cause drivers to leave their lanes “10 percent more often” than undistracted drivers. I know we always hear it, but honestly, is it really worth it?

If you’d like to be entertained, and possibly frightened for your life, visit MSN autos’ thread titled “What crazy things have you seen drivers do in traffic? And what have YOU done while driving?” It’s sure to put a puzzled look on your face and a squeamish feeling in your stomach. Just to give you a taste, a message was posted on February 13, 2009 that reads, “I once observed a guy doing 75 (in a 65) or so in rush hour traffic on I-684 playing a flute with both hands.” Now if you’re able to do this, you may be a talented multi-tasker– we’ll give you that much. But do us all a favor and focus on driving while you’re cruising.

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