Squirrels can be so distracting, especially when they are chasing each other around, running along the fence, darting in front of your car, or cute little babies, but more on that in a minute…
Back when the first iPhone came out, Will Smith starred in the movie Seven Pounds, a tragic love story that centered around one man’s efforts to fix what he broke by texting and driving. I’m not going to ruin the movie for you if you haven’t seen it, but I am going to point out one thing (that doesn’t have anything to do with squirrels): this movie was on the cutting edge for warning us not to text and drive back in 2008.
Washington was the first
Washington was the first state to ban texting while driving in 2007. At the time, it was a big deal, especially since most people had brick phones or phones with complete QWERTY-style keyboards. Many people thought the state was overstepping by regulating such an uncommon thing.
At the time, I honestly didn’t think it was possible to text while driving, but that’s because I never really figured out how to text while doing something else. I mean, even with Swype on my Android phone, I have a hard time sending a simple text message without correcting autocorrect. But maybe I’m just revealing too much of my own deficiencies.
The reality was, and still is, that people get distracted all of the time while driving. They get distracted by squirrels, by food, by the radio, by passengers, by putting on makeup, by beautiful sunsets, and did I mention cute baby squirrels?
All of this distraction adds up to a lot of injury and even death. Annually, around 3,000 people die per year due to distracted driving, much of which is related to texting and cell phone use.
Yet the legislation continues
Every year, legislation is put forth that will make the distracted driving laws stricter in the state of Washington. The year 2017 saw the greatest changes as fines were increased and even touching a handheld device with your finger was deemed a violation.
In 2019 and 2020, the Washington House spent a lot of time crafting and seeking feedback on a bill that would increase fines for using handheld devices near schools and crosswalks. That legislation may have been momentarily tabled due restrictions surrounding the SARS-CoV-2 disruption of the legislature.
No need to wait
We don’t need to wait for legislation to decide to not text and drive. It’s pretty obvious that it’s not easy to operate a motor vehicle while we’re holding our phones. And it seems like about 1 out of 4 of our clients report texting or talking on the phone as a primary reason why someone crashed into them. Besides, what is so important that you can’t pull off to the side of the road and deal with it?
I’m pretty convinced that many of us are texting while driving without even realizing it, so I’ll end this post with a challenge: instead of committing (again) to not text and drive because you know it’s the smart thing to do, go ahead and test your reliance on your cell phone by putting it in your glove box while you’re driving. Do it for a week. And see if you don’t suffer withdrawals.
Let me know how you do in the comments below.