Stay Alive When You Drive

I drive a 4x4 pickup truck when hauling debris, or a Mr. Handyman company van. While vans, and certainly pickup trucks, are common in the greater Jacksonville area, I still sit higher than the majority of the vehicles around me.

It is quite easy to see into adjacent cars, and I am dismayed with the volume of drivers that have one hand on the steering wheel and a phone in the other hand. Worse yet, they have one eyeball focused on the road, while the other is focused on their phone.

Chameleons’ eyes can rotate and focus on objects separately. This is an evolutionary feat developed over countless generations that gives them 360-degree vision. This is useful when hunting for dinner, mostly insects and small lizards, it is also helpful when others are hunting them for dinner.

Having lived with smartphones for but one generation, we humans have not yet developed the ability to focus each eye on a different object. Anyone attempting this, while traveling the interstate at highway speeds, should do an internet search on ‘Darwin Award’. They may find a picture of themself. Over many generations we may develop a branch on our evolutionary tree for humans with chameleon eyes; but we are not there yet.

Like drunk drivers, distracted drivers injure others. As a father, husband, son, employer, and member of the community, I worry for those around me. It is estimated that 1 in 4 accidents are caused by distracted driving, and in 2019 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 3,142 lives were lost as a result of distracted driving.

Eighteen months ago we entered a COVID induced paradigm shift. Many less miles were driven as we stopped commuting to work and began to operate so much of our lives virtually. In doing this, we ramped our use of devices to stay connected with our employers and employees, friends, family, and the world. Maybe we simply forgot that driving and devices do not mix. Or maybe these past 18 months have strengthened our device addiction.

Jacksonville, we have a problem, and it is us. It is not just teenagers and twenty-somethings that still operate under the belief that nothing bad will happen to them. It is adults of all ages, including parents with kids in the backseat. Is something on your phone really more important than your kids lives? Consider them growing up without you, or you growing old without them, because of an accident when you were distracted by your phone.

Jacksonville, please put down your phone, and stay alive when you drive. If not for you, then do it for the people you care about. Mr. Handyman cares, and we hope you do to.