Let's Stop Yakking Ourselves To Death

You see it just as I do on our busy freeways and streets. How many times do you witness drivers cruising along at 65 mph or a lot more while:

  • Talking on a cell phone.
  • Texting on their cell phone.
  • Eating a sloppy sandwich.
  • Applying makeup or brushing their hair in the rear-view mirror.
  • Et cetera.

A lot of attention is being paid to distracted driving nowadays, and for good reason. Government statistics show that thousands of people are killed each year and over 400,000 people injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. After years of decline due to safer cars and roads and crackdowns on drunk driving, U.S. highway fatalities are on the rise again. They are on track this year to approach 40,000, the highest level in a decade. Most experts blame the proliferation of electronic devices for the increase. Studies have shown that people who use cell phones while driving – the most common distraction – are four times as likely to get into an accident. That’s about the same rate as driving while intoxicated.

As you’re probably aware, California bans the use of hands-on cell phones and texting for all drivers. (Hands-free conversations are allowed for most drivers.) But you know how that goes. We see that law broken almost every day. The police can catch only a tiny fraction of violators.

Safe driving is a recurring theme of our bi-weekly safety meetings with Dutton Plumbing technicians. We emphasize compliance with our state’s law against hands-on cell phone use. That’s why we are equipping all of our service vehicles with Bluetooth systems that will enable our technicians to communicate hands-free via cell phones.

We’re pretty sure all of our technicians abide by that law and other rules of the road. If any of our employees do exhibit bad driving, we want to hear about it. Our telephone number appears in large lettering on the sides of our service vehicles. Please give us a call as soon as possible (after your vehicle is stopped) if you spot any of our drivers doing something unsafe.

Yet this message is not only about them. It’s about you and me and everyone else who may be tempted to talk on our phones while driving.

The temptation is great to make and receive calls while behind the wheel, especially here in California where we spend so much windshield time in our daily lives. Most of us have hectic schedules and spend hours a day driving from place to place tending to business and personal matters. Let’s fess up. Haven’t most of us from time to time made or answered phone calls while behind the wheel to help manage our busy schedules.

All of us need to get out of that stinkin’ thinkin’ mindset. Few calls are so important they can’t wait until you reach your destination. If a call is so important that you must answer or make it while driving, pull over someplace safe before reaching for the phone.

The life you save may be your own or one of your loved ones.