Tuesday, July 28, 2009

i've said it before and i'll say it again

Anybody who is lobbying for forbidding the use of cell phones while driving has NEVER DRIVEN WITH CHILDREN. I'm all for safe driving. I think it should be harder to get a driver's license. I'd be supportive of additional requirements to maintain said license, say, bi-annual testing or something. I do believe there are too many people on the road and that, in general, cars are not much respected and are totally overused. We sit behind these giant, heavy potential murder machines and we zip around like it's nothing. I like being a biker and a pedestrian when I can. But I also really, really love driving. Fast. And Far. It's a wonderful feeling. I like to think that I balance my enjoyment of motoring with my conscientiousness of other drivers, the rules of the road, the environment (but I'm not a hypermiler. No. I leave that one to the mister). And as much as I'd like to believe every other driver on the road is similarly mindful, I know that's not true.

I see stupid drivers all the time. Some of them are using cell phones, most of them are not. Studies apparently indicate that driving while using a cell phone is the same as driving while drunk.

And yet, I find myself the most distracted not while talking on a cell phone (our only household phone these days is one cell phone I share with my husband and sometimes, yes, I have it in the car with me) but while attending to the needs of my children. And any parent probably knows what I'm talking about. And any parent of carsick-prone children definitely knows what I'm talking about. Have you ever been hurtling down the freeway when you hear that unmistakable pre-puke chokey cough from the backseat?! Have you ever been the sole adult in a vehicle with two green kids with their hands over their mouths?! No? Because I have. I have scrabbled for some sort of vomit-catching vessel, I have flailed my short arms backwards and tried to dispense bowls and cloth napkins. I have tried desperately to keep my eyes on the road while assessing the damage behind me (did it all get in the bowl? do i need to stop to take the car seat cover off and give it a rinse with the water bottle?).

So I'll tell you what, Hang-Up-And-Drive-ers, I'll get on board with your agenda when you find someone to ride shotgun with me all the time. Or when you ban kids from the car. Because when they're not puking? They could be crying (my babies aren't babies anymore but I did not have little ones who tolerated the car well at all. There was screaming. A lot of screaming) or, maybe, singing, like, I'm Henry the 8th I am Hen-er-eeee THE EIGHT I AM I AM I GOT MARRIED TO THE WIDOW NEXT DOOR SHE'S BEEN MARRIED SEVEN TIMES BEFORE AND EVERY ONE WAS AN 'ENERY ('enery!), WOULDN'T 'AVE A WILLY OR A SAM (no sam!) over and over and over again (SECOND VERSE, SAME AS THE FIRST) until driving into oncoming traffic begins to sound like a sensible alternative.

So you know what I think? I think current road rules need to be enforced. I think driving has become a right and not a privilege (and really, rights vs. privileges is a subject that crosses many topics and deserves its own post). I think making rules against cell phone use will not make the roads safer. I think it should be much more difficult to become a driver in the first place.

And for the record, I'm not serious about banning kids from the car. Even if I relish solo drives by cranking up the speakers louder than growing ears should hear, I am in the car with my children more often than not and I like it that way. But let's call a spade a spade, ok? Distraction comes in many forms and good drivers need to be prepared to handle most of them.


milkstained said...

I know I don't really mean this but I would almost rather have someone carsick than what I have going on in the car. At least that way when I was paying attention to that instead of the road, it would be for a genuine, not-their-fault reason rather than trying to verbally try to break up a fight about who poked who with a pen. (Or 50,000 reasons that are even stupider.)

That being said, people around here driving with cell phones make a lot of dumb mistakes. I'm all for the hands-free cell phone use. Take one hand out of the equation, though, to hold a phone and it renders people stupid.

Anonymous said...

i used to think that my bigger girl got car sick because she spent so little time in a car, and she was so not used to it. we didn't actually own a car until she was close to 2, and the handful of times that she rode in one as a bigger baby/toddler all involved heavy duty puking.
now that she is 7, she is very used to being in a car, but still prone to vomiting on longer trips. she always needs her window at least cracked, even in the dead of winter, or she gets queasy.
i am quite amazed (and so grateful, and SO knocking on everything wooden that's within knocking distance) that i haven't gotten in an accident after hearing that telltale "maaaawwwmm?" because it does incite real panic in me, and my motherly instincts (to comfort, to assist, to keep puke off the upholstery) absolutely lurch into a very real competition against my efforts to be a safe driver.