Do you remember when you got your drivers license? I remember when I did. I LOVED driving. Any chance I could get, I would take it and drive…
“Are you sure you don’t need anything from the store Mom? Do you need milk?”
What was I thinking? My Mother doesn’t even drink milk.
“Dad, I’ll go pick up (fill in the blank) for you.”
I’d do anything to drive.
I was desperate to drive.
I was even willing to pick up my brother from acrobatics.

Driving meant I was free.

When did people stop understanding, stop enjoying the act of driving? Driving a car is not passive it is active. Your windshield is not a TV screen. When you are watching TV you can multi-task, when you are driving a vehicle, potentially a weapon, you can’t. Period.
Your windshield is a window that allows you to see not only into your future/where you are going, but it also allows you to see the obstacles that are in the way of your destination/goal. Not often do we get the opportunity to see life so black and white.

Don’t tell me traffic wrecked driving for you? I know sitting in bummer to bummer, mmm… not so fun. Doesn’t feel anything like freedom. Quite the contrary, sitting on the 405 at 5 feels more like being in prison. Such a waste of your time. After all, with so many important things to do, yet traffic insists that you sit there an do nothing. OMG! How awful! (Buddhists would have a field day with this one).
Good Lord, we are so important.


If you missed NPR’s report this week from the Detroit Auto Show on All Things Considered here it is. (The audio at the bottom of the post)
Basically, it’s about Internet technology/social networking – face-booking and tweeting from your dashboard.   At a time when the Feds would like to ban cell phone use in vehicles and not just texting either, we are talking all cell phone use – even hands free. The jury is in about the dangers of distracted driving. Distracted driving is a cognitive issue, not a physical issue.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called attention to a disturbing fact: Younger drivers are less likely to see texting or talking on cellphones while behind the wheel as dangerous.
The poll found that 63 percent of young people admit to driving while using a cellphone, and 30 percent say they have sent text messages while driving.
The Washington Post reports.

“We are taking action on a number of fronts to address the epidemic of distracted driving in America,” said Secretary LaHood.  “With the help of the experts, policymakers, and safety advocates we’ve assembled here, we are going to do everything we can to put an end to distracted driving and save lives.”

I find the auto industry’s response to this knowledge not surprising but certainly disappointing to say the least. The auto industry not necessarily known for taking the “safe road” on their own volition, instead looking for the “competitive edge” i.e. show me the money.

Think Pinto…

“Pinto, a low-cost car put out by Ford in the early 70’s. The gas tank was easy to damage in a rear-end collision and this often led to the damaged car going up in flames. Ford knew about the lethal flaw but decided that paying out on wrongful-death lawsuits would be cheaper than fixing it. When this was unearthed in one widely publicized case, punitive damages equal to both cost estimates combined were awarded in that one case. They also failed to account for lawsuits by injured victims, having apparently assumed one hundred percent mortality in accidents. Make a “backfiring strategy” joke at your own peril. It should be pointed out that not even every Pinto was a Pinto in this sense- 1971-76 coupes and hatchbacks had the above-mentioned defect; a fix was made beginning from 1977 (look for a heavy plastic shield between the gas tank and differential and a chrome rather than painted gas cap on pre-’77 cars). The wagon model, with the gas tank farther from the rear bumper and a completely different filler neck, was no better or worse than any other small car from The Seventies. Some exported cars were even modified prior to the American make in order to comply with foreign safety requirements…”

Think seat belts….

“The first factory-installed seat belts in the U.S. appeared in the 1950 Nash Statesman and Ambassador models. This was nearly 20 years after U.S. physicians had begun urging auto manufacturers to provide seatbelts in cars.

Until the late 1960s and early 1970s, the automotive industry in the U.S. was almost entirely unregulated, and concern over traffic safety had been minimal. In 1965 an estimated 50,000 people were killed in automobile crashes. That same year, the Senate passed a two-year, $320 million highway beautification bill that provided $5 million for a study of ways to dispose of scrapped cars, and a meager $500,000 for a study of highway safety.

The auto industry at the time believed that safety would not sell, and that an emphasis on a car’s safety features would scare the public. Advertising instead generally focused on a car’s comfort, style, and performance. At the same time, efforts to reduce traffic crashes never focused on the automobile, but rather on the driver or the road.”

Think airbags…..

In the 1980’s, auto manufacturers were faced with a federal mandate to install “passive restraint” safety devices to protect vehicle occupants in the event of a collision. Also known as the “air bag mandate,” this requirement was vigorously opposed by all the major vehicle manufacturers.

Claims of tremendous expense, dubious reliability, and impracticality were amplified by dealers and even auto enthusiast groups. Some foreign manufacturers implied that the air bag mandate would preclude them from staying in the U.S. market. To the rescue came the U.S. Dept. of Transportation (USDOT) in the persona of Elizabeth Dole.

A deal was cut and it went like this: If the auto industry could get mandatory seat belt laws passed in enough states such that 80% of the population would be covered by such laws, the air bag mandate would be put on indefinite hold.

There are many more examples, but I’m writing a blog here – not a book.

Listening to this from NPR, it is clear to me that the business of making cars hasn’t changed much. When it comes to our safety and making the best choices for consumers and the planet, most auto manufactures only get on board when forced,  kicking and screaming all the way. Hey auto execs how did that work out for ya? As I recall your industry went bankrupt and it was the American people who bailed you out. Seems ironic that you don’t mind killing the very same people that saved you.

Did you hear this???? They are still missing the point. Whether you look up or down or feel the buttons… it doesn’t matter. Distracted driving is cognitive not physical.  Projecting an image on the windshield, really? Because you have a heads-up display (HUD) you think that it is okay. Um… no it’s not.
Sounds way cool, and presses all of our Disney in the future – jet pack expectations, but turns out, oh so wrong.
Updating our status on Facebook, tweeting and re-tweeting such important stuff,
“Hey tweeps, feeling pooped. Gonna get sm coffee”.
Four-squaring our ficticious mayoral west side title and where we are getting our second quadruple non-fat late… and all from our car’s dashboard?
Oh so F-ing wrong.
Let’s. Just. Drive.
And more often than not relax into bummer to bummer – relish “nothing”, and just drive.

Here is a link Drive First. It is an Android application that restricts phones from performing potentially dangerous actions while the owner is driving.
Sprint’s Drive First 

images culled from google

  • Kajon

    For sure Mike, though I have been known to put on lip gloss! ;-)

  • Kajon

    Not only cleaning Chad, but all the “extras” break down.

  • Kajon

    My Gosh!!!

  • Naomi Smythe

    Hey, that would be great to watch a movie whilst driving……can you buy this as an accessory?