Creating a Distracted Driving Family Plan
At Parnall Law, we believe in giving back to the community. And one of the best ways to give back is to support the young people in our community who we feel will continue to “pay it forward.”This year, Parnall Law Firm asked students to ’Create a “Distracted Driving Family Plan” within which you address the safety of your family by proactively committing to a plan that avoids the occurrence(s) of distracted driving by you and the members of your family. We had many great submissions and chose four winners giving away $6,000 in scholarships in our essay contest. We would like to congratulate those students who won and recognize their thought-provoking work.
First Place – $2,500
- Kimberly Klingler
Second Place – $1,500
- Kamryn Johnson
Third Place (tie) – $1,000 each
- Nicole Gonzales
- Xavian Jimenez
First Place: Kimberly Klingler
It doesn’t have to be this way. Avoiding distractions is a sure way to increase our safety as we drive. Distracted driving is driving while focusing on anything other than getting safety to a destination. The problem with driving is that it starts out commanding our entire focus, but by the time we get comfortable, we barely glance at the road. When people get too comfortable performing a task, they tend to use less effort and concentration. Our brains are wired this way to help us conserve energy when completing repetitive and mundane tasks. Driving can feel repetitive, but no two drives are exactly the same. There are a trillion circumstances that shape each commute: from the people around you, the time of day, the weather, your mood, etc. To keep the drive interesting, people attempt to multitask. People are awful multitaskers. According to Jory Mackay’s Rescue Time blog, there are three types of multitasking: multitasking, switching costs, and attention residue. He explains in detail the emotional and mental costs of doing two tasks at once, bouncing between tasks, and how switching abruptly to a new task affects us. In his blog, Mackay includes information from Dr. Meyers, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan. Concerning multitasking, Dr. Meyers warns, “Once you start to make things more complicated, things get messier, and as a result, there’s going to be interference with one or more of the tasks. Either you’re going to have to slow down on one of the tasks, or you’re going to start making mistakes.” Usually multitasking involves some form of technology. Some view technology as a distraction, others view it as a tool. The truth is it has a potential to be either, depending on how it is used. I made the choice before I even started driving lessons that my phone would not be a distraction. I refused to touch it while I was driving. If a song came on that I wasn’t particularly fond of, I would just wait until it was over. Most songs are about three minutes. I could definitely wait patiently for three minutes and avoid risking my life and others to skip it.
If your phone is distracting, put it on airplane mode, do not disturb, or way out of reach. Your phone is not the master. If it rings, it can wait. If you hear a notification, it can wait. You are the master, and should not allow yourself to be bossed around by a hunk of metal and wires. In three simple steps, I have planned out a way to limit distractions in this very critical part of our lives.
Firstly, we must prepare. Before even shifting into drive, prepare your music, pull up and type your destination into the GPS, adjust the air conditioning, make sure the passengers are situated before you go. By preparing your surroundings for a successful trip, you are also preparing yourself to have the right mindset as you drive. The second step may be the most difficult. You must be patient. Don’t be too focused on the destination to forget about the journey. Remember to be grateful that you don’t have to walk or take a bus! You have the freedom to drive wherever and whenever you want to, but that comes with certain responsibilities. Be sure to focus all of your energy on driving attentively. If you are hungry, be patient. If you are uncomfortable, be patient. Most destinations are only 15 minutes away or less. When put into perspective, 15 minutes of patience can save you a whole lifetime of regret and heartache. (Not car insurance, sorry I’m not the gecko.) Some argue that if they are running late they must speed or drive aggressively. Although I agree that punctuality is very important and polite, it’s better late than never. Being a couple minutes late does not justify the choice to sacrifice our lives, and the lives of others in order to arrive at our destination more quickly. Thirdly, we must watch out. We are only in charge of our actions, not those of others. Do not assume the other drivers on the road are going to be distraction free. Stay aware of your surroundings. Double check that other people are slowing down before you change lanes. Use your blinker. During four-way stops make eye contact before proceeding. Driving completely distraction free is impossible. We have the ability and agency to limit distractions as much as we can, and that is what we need to do. As we consciously choose to focus solely on driving when we are behind the wheel, we will increase commuting safety for ourselves, our families, and our communities.