There is a problem in Edmonton. It happens in every neighborhood and at all times of the day. Most of us are guilty of doing it and the reality is that it puts our kids at risk. It needs to stop but it’s so hard to break the habit.
Keep reading. It’s important. Edmonton is a city full of distracted drivers. Yes – it’s still distracted driving when you are stopped at a red light. It’s distracted driving when the roads are empty and you’re just checking one message. It’s distracted driving even when you just reading texts and not actually texting back.
It’s distracted driving and I’m not the exception. I’ve only owned a cell phone for the past 2.5 years and really only started texting 2 years ago. Prior to owning a cell phone, I did not, and I realize now, could not, understand the neuroscience behind why we feel compelled to open that text message. What that little ding or flash on the screen causes to happen in our brains that results in so many of us putting our kids and other people’s kids at risk. I understand now.
I understand that not wanting to drive distracted is not enough. Research has demonstrated that the reward centers in our brain lights up when we open a text or Facebook or Snap or Instagram. That dings sounds and our brains crave the chemical reaction that will occur when we respond. I don’t want to drive distracted but I know that wanting isn’t enough. So I’m using these other strategies to stop myself from driving distracted.
1) Put it in the trunk – if you are driving put your phone in the trunk or backseat out of reach. It feels weird and awkward but it’s the best way to keep from driving distracted. My husband suggested getting the Pokemon Go app and then giving your phone to your kid while you are driving – his experience is that you will never get your phone back.
2) Turn off the volume and toss it in your purse, bag or glove compartment. The idea is to remove the stimulus of the ding of a text message or the lighting up of the screen. Sometimes out of sight is out of mind.
3) Paint your thumbnail red – just your thumbnail. This is a visual STOP sign that reminds you whenever you open your phone that you need to think about what you are doing.
4) Take the pledge. Research has found that committing on paper to an act is more powerful than just mentally thinking about engaging in new behaviour. I suggest taking it one step further and take the pledge with your partner, friend, sibling or teenager.
5) Don’t tempt someone else. Keep your loved ones safe and don’t text them when you know that they are driving. You don’t always know when someone is driving but most people have fairly predictable driving patterns. I try to remember to NOT text hubby during his commute because he can’t/shouldn’t answer me so why am I texting him.
6) Invest in Bluetooth technology. Hands-free technology is available at various price points. If remaining accessible at all times is important to you, please take the steps to be as safe as possible.
I wish that I could say that I’ve never, not once, driven distracted but that would make me a liar. I will say that I don’t want to be a distracted driver and I know that distracted driving puts my kids and everyone else’s kids at risk. I need more than my good intentions to break the cycle and would love to add to my list of suggestions above.
If we have a choice between our community’s safety in our hands, or our cell phone, let’s put our local families first. Wishing everyone a safe winter driving season, as we are due for snow here any day!
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