Talking and texting while driving is illegal, yet we still do it

It’s been illegal for a year now to talk and text while driving, yet we continue to do it. Just last night, on my way to a soccer game, I saw a surprising number of drivers with their hands and phones pressed against their ears illegally. The fact that it’s a secondary offense hasn’t stopped us. And even though June 10 looms on the horizon - when it becomes a primary offense - I’m worried that we’ll continue to do it.

I think we’ll continue to do it partly because of how the smart phone has revolutionized our lives. With camera, video and web access from virtually anywhere, we’ve all essentially become amateur reporters. We can report on anything, anytime. You wouldn’t believe how many tips we receive from drivers nowadays alerting us to problems on the road – crashes, congestion, storms, etc. A lot of it even appears to have come from behind the steering wheel. Take this picture for example, which we received through Twitter, of a crash on I-5 near Bellingham that happened when a freak hail storm slammed I-5.

Picture received from Twitter letting us know of crash on I-5
Something else I’ve noticed that concerns me is the alarming number of people checking into Foursquare while driving, like on the I-90/SR520 floating bridges, or at the Peace Arch border crossing. The list of check-in locations on our highways and ferries seems to grow by the day. If you’ve never heard of Foursquare, just know that it’s not the schoolyard game from elementary school.

While I’ve never used Foursquare, I’ll admit that I am guilty of talking/texting while driving (in my personal car and on my own time). I can think of two specific times last week when I answered the phone – once when my wife texted and another when the granite installers called. That doesn’t include the several times I checked e-mail at a stoplight. I know, shame on me.

Up until yesterday, I had assumed that it was okay to check my phone at a stoplight or while sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic. That was until I saw an article from the Seattle PI that said it was illegal. Even though your tires aren’t physically turning, you’re still behind the wheel and not paying full attention. Oh, and don’t assume that you can just pull the car over to the shoulder of the highway and answer the phone. It’s illegal to do that too.

Personally, I’m resolving to hang up and drive for your safety and mine. Unless I have a hands-free device, I’m not going to talk or text while driving. I’m just not going to do it, it’s not worth it.

From the agency’s perspective, we care more about your safety than the breaking news you send us from behind the wheel. We like to say, “Know before you go” to reinforce the idea that talking, texting, eating, drinking – all of it contributes to distracted driving. Do everyone a favor and please make sure that you’re using a hands-free device.

So what’s it going to take to convince us that we need to hang up and drive? I saw a compelling tweet not too long ago that encouraged people to look up their last call/text and question whether it was worth their life. I mean, really, what call is worth risking our life for?

So, will you join me and go hands free?