Traffic Distractions

I think everyone knows that texting or even operating a cellular device while driving is asking for disaster. Many states have enacted legislation to outlaw those practices – even others ban the use by anyone in a moving vehicle.

I personally do not use or answer cell phone calls while driving (also I do not use the texting feature at all).


I do have the device mounted in such a way that I can see the number of the caller. If a family member, I usually pull over at the next most convenient place and return the call (I practice the same when I need to make a call). However, if from anyone else, I just wait until I arrive at my destination to consider returning the incoming call(s).

There is another scenario that has me confused – the use of dash-mounted displays and even controls such as radio/CD player and such. Virtually all new vehicles have as standard equipment (or an optional add-on) a fairly large screen  (4″ x 9″ or larger). These are used for GPS as well as to engage and monitor the plethora of  electronic equipment on-board.

My complaint is, if the use of cell phones, even the voice-only feature, is illegal for use by the driver (for which I support), what about the distraction of that massive display just to your right, mounted in the dash? It is a natural response to glance “over there” to check things out.

I do like the feature available on some cars that projects certain functions, like the speed, on the windshield directly in front of the driver (obviously at night). At least that enables you to see parameters without taking your eyes off the road).

Having been in the “hi-tech” field for over 30 years, I am certainly in favor of equipping and using these latest innovations that are now available in the automotive field. But my concern is the “proper use” of these features and yet, maintain the highest degree of safety. For instance, how can you keep your eye on the road and watch your GPS as you travel, especially when complex turns are involved? The “natural” response is to look at the display even if there are voice commands. Try that in Washington or New York City!

In the past, I used my 15″ laptop equipped with a GPS app and positioned in the passenger seat, but I quickly learned that it is more of a distraction than a driving aide. Also, whether using a laptop or an in-dash “control center”, even the simple playing of music on a CD or flash drive can be very distracting, for it will display a list of the contents, requiring you to look away from the road.


I am not suggesting ditching all those modern innovative instruments, just use them with good sense and logic. While driving alone, especially on a long trip, your time can be a drudgery – the radio or music can help to fill the void. Be careful NOT to use audio books or teaching tapes, programs that require heavy concentration – it takes your mind (and attention) from the road.


Texting by the driver, other than driving while intoxicated,  has become the number one cause of traffic accidents.  Can one wonder why?


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