Just get out

Deja Pseu's post on driver's phone use inspired this related post, which I could write in just three words: Just Get Out.

My real estate agent told me that she was a passenger in a builder's truck when he texted nonstop while driving to Home Depot–and back.

In a cab, the cabbie never stopped talking on his handheld mobile phone, while maintaining a second conversation with the dispatcher. 

A friend apologized that "just this once" she had to check on her child's test results, via a text sent while flying down a six-lane expressway.


We don't have to be all blaming and stroppy. Make a polite, neutral request, "Please, could you wait till we're there?" to start. If there's no result, make an immediate, certain exit. Tell them you care about their safety, too.

I'm doing it; it's the same tactic I use in cabs that have missing or broken seatbelts. (There is always an excuse that the previous customer "lost" or broke the belt.) I pay the fare to that point, no tip, and tell them why the trip's cut short.

Remember when we used to carry $20 in our wallets in case we had to get home safely from a party? Tuck a few Just.Get.Out. bills in there.

As I said to Pseu, I witnessed a death caused by driving and phoning, and it's one too many, a 24 year old young woman who passed me one rainy early morning, speeding and chatting, then missed a curve.




Susan B said…
Thanks, Duchesse. That's a good point too. No different than being in a car with a drunk driver, IMO.
Duchesse said…
Pseu: Yes, and most people assess if a person is sober b/f embarking, but I've never asked "Are you going to text?"
Cherie said…
Thank you for the reminder. What seems like an innocent habit can be deadly. I hope you don't mind that I'm going to link to this entry on my blog.
Well said Duchesse...I do not understand some people.
They need to make the fines steeper or impound the cars...why is it that people feel that they need to be connected 24/7 ?
HB said…
Thank you - very smart reminder! I hope it becomes popular and compelling to leave our phones at home soon.
Anonymous said…
Very Important Message and thank you Duchesse and Pseu.

Were you aware that Oprah had a huge campaign earlier this year
and had her guest sign a pledge
promising not to text/talk while driving.

I also like Just Get Out. It's simple and proactive. What gives me nightmares are the kids....
Susan Tiner said…
I've not yet had the experience of being a passenger in a car with a driver texting, but I'll be on the lookout now. Thanks for the reminder.
Duchesse said…
All: The reason why I am saying Just Get Out:
- none of you would drive and text (or talk on a handheld device) but what if you are *the passenger*?
- getting out is an immediate consequence and "drives" home the message that you will not support the behaviour
- you cannot force another person to change (impounding and fines are so far not that effective), but you can do what you can to protect yourself
Duchesse said…
Anonymous: I know and applaud Oprah's campaign. My proposal is for what to do with the still considerable number of people who think they are exempt.

I estimate that 5 out of 7 days (here in my large city) I see someone driving and on handheld device.

The thinking seems to be that if traffic is slow, it's OK.
Kristine said…
Thanks Duchesse. Excellent post. Impairment is impairment and paying attention to something other than driving is impairment. I see someone on a hand held device nearly every time I'm out driving.It's very concerning.
Anonymous said…
I also see some one talking on a hand held phone pretty well every day when I am driving to and from work and it makes me very angry. I hoot at them if I see them in time. If I have one of my daughters in the passenger seat they always shout and wave and point. I don't know if it has ever made anyone stop, but I can hope.
rb said…
Duchesse, I'm sorry you witnessed that. I saw a fatal accident a few years ago (right in front of me) and it has stuck with me a long time.

That being said, I hope you don't mind if I swipe the image you shared (the inspirational poster) to share with my neices and nephews. Thankfully my kids are still oo young to drive.
Darla said…
Its illegal in CA. However I asked a policeman friend about it and he said "Frankly, its not a priority". I don't know why the law was passed just to be dismissed. I could sit on the corner of one of our busy surface streets and give out at least 10 tickets an hour I'm sure.

I know people who phone or text and drive and not a single one has ever been stopped. They also know I have strong feelings about it so at least they refrain if I'm in the car.

Anonymous said…
Hey D,
Funny you bring up the subject, it happens to be a pet peeve of mine lately. Have been to a few MVC's lately involving people that were texting or talking on their cell...thankfully no fatals! The problem is, they still don't get it!!
The more people talk or voice their opinion on the subject, the more it will become like smoking....not tolerated.
Say hi to bro for me.
The in-law-bro / firefighter.
Text and cellphone driving are just as dangerous as driving drunk or otherwise impaired by substances (Remember that this can include prescription or over-the-counter medications, not just street drugs).

It is illegal in Quebec as well, but once again there is the enforcement problem.

I don't drive period, but alas there are many places, even cities, that are utterly car-dependent. Right now I'm in Amsterdam where there are very strict liability laws with burden of proof on the 'stronger' party (truck against car, car against cyclist or pedestrian, cyclist against pedestrian). Don't know about the phone/text driving laws though.

There should be hard-hitting campaigns against this like the DWI ads of a generation ago.
Duchesse said…
Anonymous/Jean: Hi and thanks for adding the voice of a firefighter. Just Get Out is my way of acting- until people refuse to ride with texters they will do it.

lagatta: I am interested in citizen's behaviour; laws are necessary but not sufficient. So my question to everyone is, when you are in a car with a person texting or on a handheld phone, what are you going to DO?"
Mardel said…
What a good point. It is illegal to use a handheld device while driving in NY but I still see it all the time. And much of my family is in states where it is not illegal and they usually call me from the car. Well at least my brother uses a hands-free phone, but even that I think is not as safe as just waiting until later. As for the kids, I've been known to ask them to call me back later, when they aren't driving.
It is important to emphasize that even hands-free devices cause grave impairment, as they require concentration on the conversation, not the road. I know that there is an exemption for police and other emergency personnel using them in their duties, but I would hope they have some courses on how to use the devices with the least possible distraction. Still, there have been tragic accidents even among such professionals.

Yes Duchesse, I agree. It has to be an attitude shift. We are old enough to remember when drinking and driving was something of a joke. And of course one smoked everywhere - I had a coughing fit when interpreting in a smoke-filled auditorium. The subject? A trade union conference on occupational health and safety. But that was decades ago.
Marie-Christine said…
Totally right. Remember the Canadian studies showing that talking on the phone (even with a hands-free setup) is exactly the equivalent of driving really drunk, about 4 times the accident rate.
And texting is much worse. Try this truly great game, which every single driver should be required to do before getting their license: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/07/19/technology/20090719-driving-game.html
Duchesse said…
lagatta: A friend of mine had a heart attack at a meeting (in Paris) of occupational health physicians. When she turned to one to say "I think I'm having a heart attack" he told her to get a coffee with plenty of sugar! She survived, but was so upset with him.

Marie-Christine: Thanks, hope everyone tries the game.

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