By Ben and Debbie Lieberman
In the 70’s, smoking two packs of cigarettes a day was common. In the 80’s, driving drunk was something to joke around about. While we are at it, nobody wore safety belts in cars, either. Just because “everyone was doing it,” did not make the behavior less dangerous or less moronic. We can all be pretty stubborn and sometimes we need a good wake up call.
Now look at driving with a Smartphone. The gigantic number of people absorbed and dependent on this relatively new and portable technology suggests the ramifications of this current distracted driving phenomenon will be even more dramatic than the above examples.
The addictive need to be connected at all times is your own prerogative, until you are navigating a car and converting that vehicle into a two-ton missile. FYI–like cigarette companies in the past, technology companies today are not only dismissing the warning signs but are going full speed ahead with technology packages in cars that fufill your need to stay connected. I would argue, an automobile is meant to take us from “Point-A to Point-B” and confusing that with business or entertaining ourselves is getting people killed.
The lesson learned from cigarettes, seatbelts and DWI is that behavior can change. I believe that distracted driving behavior will change eventually, but like cigarettes and DWI’s, I worry about all the damage that will be done as we travel up this learning curve.
I can say with a very clear conscious, as someone who doesn’t view my phone while driving… that I haven’t missed a party and I haven’t gone broke. I manage just fine to find times away from the steering wheel to get everything done. Some might disagree with the need to relinquish the devices, but to me, it seems like a pretty minor adjustment considering the downside risk. I guess the question I would like to ask the busy multi-taskers with existences more important than mine: How (or why) is your agenda more important than someone else’s life?
There are many statistics confirming that distracted driving impairments are equal to, or greater than drunk driving. But it doesn’t take an academic study to prove that if you take your eyes off the road, you are more likely to crash. This should register with our common sense. Let’s all rise above the herd. Let’s be forward thinkers.
Debbie and Ben Lieberman, Chappaqua residents for the last 20 years, are the founders of DORCs (Distracted Operators Risk Casualties) together with Deborah Becker. DORCS is an advocacy group committed to education, legislation and enforcement in efforts to combat distracted driving (the way MADD fought drinking and driving). Ben and Debbie are also the founders of Evans Team, which organizes fun, community fundraising events in memory of their son Evan. For more information, please visit evansteamny.com