PRYOR, OK —
I just saw a report that said eight out of 10 car crashes or near-crashes are caused by distracted drivers. Thank goodness I was watching TV while I was driving, or I might have missed that.
It's one of those stories that can change your life. So I called Sue to tell her, but the cellphone reception was bad out on the interstate, so I told her I'd get back to her when I was on one of the service roads.
I wonder, though, do we really need a study to know that distracted drivers cause accidents? Or is it like one of those million-dollar studies that takes years of research to shock us with the news that mother's milk is OK for babies to drink? Do we need a study to tell us people do insane things behind the wheel? All you have to do is pull out of your driveway to realize that the inmates have taken over the asylum.
Hang on, I've got to stop typing and pay attention to the guy in front of me. He's driving erratically; he's all over the road. I think he may be drunk. Well, at least he's not distracted. Never mind -- I just flew past him and I think he's sober, and he wasn't on the phone or texting. He was just updating his Facebook status. Seems he's less distracted now that someone took a baseball bat to his left headlight.
I know a lot of people work out of their cars now. The front passenger seat is their entire office. It's got the computer, the filing cabinet, water cooler -- everything you need to run a business, right there within easy reach. The back seat is the conference room. I suppose the most common business to run out of a car is car insurance claims adjuster.
Oh, look at that! The woman in the next lane is putting on her makeup while she's driving. That is so wrong! What is she thinking? Those aren't her colors at all! Doesn't she know bright red is sooo over? She should be using pastels and soft, soft translucent colors. They should take away her license. Not her driver's license, her beautician's license. Doesn't she read Vogue while she's driving?
Hang on, what's this? The traffic's slowing down to a crawl. Probably an accident. But I see there's nothing on the local TV station about it yet. Let me click through the channels. Nope, nothing. Why are we drivers always the last to know? If only I could get basic cable in the car.
Wait, this looks serious. There are two cars over in the disabled lane. An accident? Road rage? A fender-bender? Has anyone been hurt? Will an ambulance be showing up soon? No, it looks like ... I don't believe this! They've pulled off the road to eat lunch!
They are sitting behind the wheel, eating in parked cars. No wonder there's rubbernecking. Now I've absolutely seen everything! They can't eat French fries and drive at the same time? How did they ever get a driver's license? Isn't that part of the test, being able to eat and drive at the same time? If it isn't part of the test, it should be. It would keep nutcases like that off the road -- they're distracting me.
I've eaten peel 'n' eat shrimp while driving and playing a video game at the same time, and these people can't choke down a hamburger without have to park their cars? They could cause an accident.
Uh-oh. A cop. Now that's a distraction -- all those lights and sirens pulling up behind me, and the loudspeaker telling me to pull over. Twice in one day. That's four times this week. It's making me a nervous wreck.
When are they going to do a study about that?
(Contact Jim Mullen at JimMullenBooks.com.)