Texas, Traffic, and Phones
Ahhh, the great state of Texas. Everything is bigger in Texas, right? Big cities, big hats, big hair - we Texans just love big. We have big cars and big trucks to get to our big stores and we drive big distances to go to big stadiums to watch big people play sports on big screens.
We even have big roads. In fact, if you string our roads together you could drive more than 300,000 miles. That's enough to drive around this sweet Earth 25 times. We have massive freeways that are 20 lanes wide and ridiculous speed limits of 85 miles per hour. Yes, our highways can probably beat up your highways. Ours are bigger, wider, faster, and nicer. So don't mess with Texas, because Texas is awesome, right?
You know what we're awesome at? Staring at our phones.
Texas traffic has been a real bear lately hasn't it? It's probably because when the lights turn green, nobody moves anymore. So many people have their face buried in their phone that it takes a long lay on the horn to "encourage" them to unpeel their eyes from that precious little 4 inch screen.
So even with more roads that are bigger, faster, and wider, we're not getting anywhere any sooner. As if it's law that to operate your car, you have to also stare at your phone. [Section 32 - when you start your car, choose one hand to hold your phone, turn it on, and hold it directly in front of your face.] Honestly, no matter what state or country I go to, nobody stares at their phones on the road like Texans do.
My favorite is the little back windshield hand wave after they have realized they're a day late and dollar short. It's like the acknowledgment of idiocy. "Sorry I delayed everyone behind me and made some of you catch the fresh red light. This little wave should settle the debt." So sorry Captain Dumas, it doesn't.
Sure distracted driving is six times more dangerous than drunk driving, and texting while driving makes you 23 times more likely to crash, and there are over 260 wrecks killing at least one person every single day in Texas... but let's talk about what really matters. It's slowing down traffic. First of all, more wrecks create more traffic. Even on my simple 17 mile drive to work, I can't drive it without seeing at least one wreck. I wish Vegas would let me bet on it. I'd be a billionaire. Even when you're driving and you haven't been delayed by a wreck yet, it's still slowing you down because half the people in front of you have their faces glued to their phone. So they're basically slow to react to... ANYTHING. Traffic now moving along is an unknown fact to them. Traffic slowing down? What, huh? (as they slam their breaks). Light turned green? "Oh did it? My bad," they would gesture. It's unprecedented idiocy.
Dear Texas, put the stupid phone down. Are we as a culture so smart phone dependent that we just have to fiddle with our phones even while we are behind the wheel of a 1000 pound potential killing machine? Do we have to check our SMS and social media at every stop light & sign? If that's you I have a terrible prognosis for you (you're welcome). Not being able to look out the window for 30 seconds and rest in your own thoughts is a severe disease. The best part? There's no medicine for it. It's up to you to change. I double dog dare you to muster up the will power to change your own behavior and cure yourself, because only you can.
So these days, instead of 20 cars making it through a green light, it's now 10, because half of them were oblivious to the fact that the light changed. So go ahead and respond to that text. Send that tweet, update your status, and don't forget to pin it. But I hope you like car crashes, because doing any of those things behind the wheel make you 23 times more likely to cause a wreck. Yes, twenty three times more likely.
We can all agree that you would never drunk drive, right? We all know that's like the pinnacle of bad driving decisions. Oh but it's not. Don't get me wrong, it's still monumentally stupid. But you fiddling with your phone is WORSE. Six times worse than drunk driving says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
So check this - Someone is injured in a car crash every 5 minutes in Texas from distracted driving. One in forty of those die. That's a crap ton of wrecks (and deaths) every single day. Why? Because that phone is so important, that whatever is happening on it not only carries a magical false sense of urgency, but it is apparently worth dying or killing for. FYI - your head won't explode if you ignore your phone while behind the wheel. But it might actually explode if you keep fiddling with your phone, and someone else's bumper travels right through the middle of your head at an uncomfortable pace. True story.
And I totally get that your slick phone connects you to the most important people of your life, and allows you to consume socially generated content at a near warp speed. But know this, the most important people in your life don't want to be complicit in making you 23 times more likely to wreck. And that socially generated content is being created at a rate that is insanely faster than you can consume it. So no need to panic - you wouldn't even catch up if you clicked, scrolled, and swiped 24 hours a day for the rest of your life. Safe conclusion - It's not worth it.
So please, if not for everyone else, do it for yourself. Put the phone down.