Back in the “old days” I watched my parents use a rotary phone. If there were more than two zeros in a person’s number, it took about 30 seconds to dial.
If we had to wait 30 seconds to dial now, most people would be throwing their cellphones out the window. Perhaps we should.
When cellphones first became a common possession, we all felt a little safer. We began to keep them in our cars, our bags, and our pockets, just in case. And I am sure that cellphones have saved more than a few lives, but they have also caused many lives to be lost.
Like anything in this world, moderation seems to be the key, and I find it ironic that driving while talking on the phone is equated to driving while drunk. Both issues may need intervention in order to handle the addiction.
I bring my cellphone—or as some call it, “the crackberry"—with me wherever I go. I run a business, and I am the primary caregiver to my two kids, so access to phone calls and emails gives me the flexibility I need to “have it all,” which I have learned is overrated.
I don’t actually want it all. I simply want the small part of it that allows me to pay my bills, serve a positive purpose in life, and have time with my family. Again, it’s ironic, because if I choose to talk and drive, I put all of that at risk.
I'm the first to admit that when my cellphone sits on the seat next to me and sounds off with that irresistible “plink,” it isn’t easy to quell the urge to take a peek. But then I remind myself—I started bringing a phone with me for safety reasons. I wanted to make sure that if there was any kind of emergency, I could call for help. So by using my phone while driving, I am simply increasing the chances of creating the emergency I was trying to avoid.
In one of the children’s books I wrote there is a Stop and Think Checklist that allows kids to get into the habit of imagining what might happen next before they make a decision. I’ve taken my own advice.
Before I get in my car, I do a little imagining, myself.
I imagine the families around me—those who don’t know me but are counting on me to take a little responsibility when it comes to their safety.
I imagine how I would feel if a thoughtless decision I made caused harm.
I imagine the split second of fear I’d have if my kids were in the car with me and the unthinkable happened.
And I imagine my children in the car in front of me, and what I would hope from the driver behind them.
We are not perfect. Most people I know at one time or another have used their phone while driving—myself included. But knowing what we know now, it’s hard to imagine why we would continue to take that risk.
My phone now lives in the glove compartment, my purse, or in the backseat with the kids. I have it when I need it, but I am learning to resist the urge to use it just because it’s there.
Please join me.
Taryn Grimes-Herbert is the author of the I've Got interactive book series for children. Calling upon her professional acting experience on Broadway, film and television, she is a public speaker and takes her books and workshops into classrooms hoping to help kids build character, develop empathy and learn to communicate respectfully through creative dramatics activities. For more information, visit http://www.ivegotbooks.net.