Distracted Driving

I am distracted by all the new driving laws.  Don’t get me wrong, they are important, this is not a blog to complain about the rules, it’s a story about how easily distracted….and possibly senile…..I am getting to be.

When I was a young teenager and had just begun driving, around 10 years ago…*cough* *cough*… the only rule that I needed to remember was to keep my car under the speed limit.  This was generally not a problem when you consider that I was driving a 1962 Ford Fairlane with a ‘three on the tree’ transmission.  If I could get that baby revved up to a fast and furious 35 km/hr we were flying!   Believe me, when you learn to drive in a car like that one you can go on in life and confidently drive anything from a tractor to a mercedes.  Every new driver should have the opportunity to drive a car like that.  Texting while driving would not be an option.  By the time you revved it up, popped the clutch and turned the big red steering wheel (without power steering), to get around a corner your hands were too tired to do anything else.  I did develop my ‘knee steering’ skills so that I could do all of that while eating a Big Mac.  Ahhh – the Big Mac.  I remember when I could eat a Big Mac and still fit into my pants…. beautiful memories, but I digress.

So, as a youngster my worries with driving were few.  My car could barely go the speed limit, so speeding tickets weren’t a problem.  However, a few years into my driving experience, seatbelts were made mandatory.  The outcry from my friends was loud and ineffective.  They tried lobbying with stories of how seatbelts had actually been responsible for deaths in accidents, injuries that were more severe than if the seatbelts had not been worn.  All of this fell on deaf ears, and the seatbelt law was in place.  I didn’t care.  ‘Old Fordie’ had no seatbelts.

 So, in 1987 with this newly introduced law, drivers now had to check their speed and their seatbelts whenever they saw a police car……or the even more greatly feared – ghost car.  Which was only a ghost car for about 5 minutes in our small town before everybody was spreading the word about the new ghost car – it’s a tan colored four door sedan with no hubcaps….watch out everybody! 

Fast forward to today.  Our vehicles are equipped with not only engines that can go much faster than the speed limit and seatbelts, but also DVD players for movies, cell phones for apologizing to the kid we left stranded, heated seats to start our butts on fire, mirrors so we can curl our hair while driving, laptops for facebooking, sunroofs, underglow packages, radar detectors, satellite radios and more.  We no longer just need to watch for police cars and ghost cars, but now we have random trucks on grassy knolls taking photo radar pictures giving us tickets that we cannot talk our way out of.  No wonder we needed a distracted driving law!

A few weeks ago I was driving along on a stretch of road that circles our city.  It’s a well known place for the photo radar trucks to sit on the grass and snap photos of unaware speeders.  It was early morning and the road was nearly empty so I had a clear view and no photo radar trucks were on the horizon.  With our newly implemented distracted driving laws, I had equipped myself with a hands free phone attatchment so I was safe from prosecution for talking on my phone.  My seatbelt was safely holding me in my seat.  The radio was set to my favorite station.  Lipstick and hair taken care of.  I was good to go.  No distractions here.

When I saw the police car ahead, I thought of how lucky I was to have my hands free set in my ear.  Seatbelt – check.  All’s well…..but he still turned on his lights and whipped a U turn behind me……he must have gotten a call and will speed past me.  I pulled over to let him go past.  He pulled up to a stop behind me.

Well now I was really excited!  They must have started a reward program for good driving.  He probably saw my hands free set and my seatbelt and wants to give me a prize!  I had heard of the police having ‘caught you being good’ blitzes before and this must be another!  Thrilling!

“Where are you off to in such a hurry?” he asked.  My stunned silence wasn’t the answer he was looking for – but in my defence, his question had caught me a bit off guard.  That and the fact that this officer appeared to be 12 years old and I was fighting the urge to scold him for pulling me over.

“You were doing 87 in a 60” he told me.  “WHAT?!?” was my reply.  It seems that I have become programmed to slow down when I see the photo radar truck parked on the grass, but not when I see an actual police car.  “I am on my way to the pharmacy to pick up eye drops for my daughter – she has a serious eye injury” was the best I could do.  Lame.  It even sounded lame to me.  Just so you know, don’t try to use eye drops as an emergency to get out of a speeding ticket.  It gets you looked at funny.

So my prize that day was a nice old fashioned speeding ticket and a scolding from a 12 year old police officer.  I must have reminded him of his mother because now he wanted to have a visit.  “So, what engine have you got in this?” he leaned on my window and asked.  I replied with my classic….’do I look like someone who knows the answer to that?’ face.  It involves smiling demurely, tilting my head down and raising one eyebrow.  I actually do know the answer – it’s a V6, but I was in a hurry for those eyedrops and wanted to cut my little visit with this toddler short.

The moral to my story is this.  Don’t be distracted by the distracted driving laws.  The police will stop you for other things too – like speeding.

As I got into my Jeep in the pharmacy parking lot, I put on my hands free phone earpiece….I set my radio to my favorite station….mirrors in the correct position….put on my lip gloss before starting the car…..pulling out of the parking lot, checked my speed…..and realized I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt!

It’s all too much sometimes.  I think I will just hire someone to drive me around.  You can call me Miss Daisy.

“Sand was dribbling out of the bag of her attention, faster and faster” – Sarah Blake, author.





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