Distracted Driving

posted on November 1st, 2010 in Cycling, Cycling Tips by Stephen

Distraction is the new Driving While Intoxicated.

As I road ride in and around the Atlanta area, it is VERY common to see people pass by me with their phones raised up next to the steering wheel. Are they texting? Phoning a friend? checking FaceBook?
Did they even see me before they looked back to their phone, or did I just get lucky again and they looked back to the phone once they were going past me?

Today’s drivers have more distraction inside a moving vehicle than the radio and whomever they may have as a passenger – now all their friends are in the car with them……on their cell phone and even laptops.

Studies have now shown that texting while driving is more distracting than driving while intoxicated. ‘I’ve heard’ that intoxicated drivers tend to be more focused on the road b/c they know they are intoxicated and do not want to get arrested. Many drivers in todays society just don’t focus while driving. And I am guilty of this also. But I have yet to have someone screaming at me because I waited until I was stopped or until I got to my destination to text them back.

Here in Georgia we have a new law that basically says ‘Thou shall not Text while operating a motor-vehicle’. But since it hasn’t stopped the police from doing it, why would it stop everyone else? In fact, some folks have what is even worse form of distraction in their vehicles – laptops. Whether they are checking websites or doing reports, I still see company employees and government employees using laptops while driving.

I think a good thing that I had gotten into the habit of doing each time I hear a car coming from behind me, is to turn my head slightly towards the car. I am able to stay straight, and not swerve while doing this. I check to see where the car is in the lane that we are both in. I feel that this does 2 things:

1) I see where the vehicle is, have they started to go around me yet, or are they coming up directly behind me. If I think a vehicle does not see me or is coming too close, I will get out of the way – I have done this before.

2) To the drive of the vehicle it would seem that I just looked ‘at them’. Sure, I may not have seen who exactly is driving the vehicle, but the impression that the driver may have gotten could be different. At the very least it let the driver of the vehicle realize that I know the vehicle is there & they are not ‘scaring’ me by coming too close or narrowly zipping past me.

We can’t always be safe, but hopefully this way we can minimize our risks while out cycling. Hopefully this will keep more people alert, and aware while driving any vehicle that is on the road – including bicycles.

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2 Responses to “Distracted Driving”

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