Flirting With Disaster Or Just A Close Shave?

As I was riding my motorcycle to a doctor’s appointment, I noticed the car in front of me weaving back and forth like a child on a bicycle.  Giving the car a wide berth, I passed cautiously.  As I drove past, I saw the problem – the driver, a woman a few years older than me, was steering with her elbows while using both hands to compose a text message on her cell phone.  I almost dropped my sandwich.

An hour later and six miles away, I passed the same car in front of a busy shopping mall.  I recognized it by the large sticker in the back window advertising the source of the driver’s education.  Apparently this college didn’t require an IQ test for admission, because the car was weaving back and forth for the exact same reason.  I have little doubt she was still working on the same message. 

Over the past several years, distracted driving has gained a lot of notoriety, and for good reason.  From cell phone usage to eating, reading, putting on makeup, and turning around to smack the kids, distractions have caused a lot of mayhem on our highways.  But last year a woman driving through the Florida Keys took distracted driving to a whole new level.  She raised the bar so high, it may never be touched again.

It seems this woman was on her way to visit her boyfriend in Key West.  Apparently she was in a bit of a hurry, because in the haste of packing and putting on makeup, she forgot something that’s become much more important in the 21st century than it used to be – she forgot to shave her nether regions.  You heard me right.  And with little time to spare, she broke out a razor while driving her Thunderbird down the Overseas Highway.

No, she wasn’t stupid enough to do this while driving.  Well, not technically.  I mean, she was sitting behind the wheel with her foot on the gas, but the actual driving was being done by her ex-husband in the passenger seat.  Let me say that again … her ex-husband in the passenger seat … while she was shaving her you-know-what to make it more presentable for her boyfriend.  I’ll bet Jerry Springer was drooling over this one. 

And I’m sure the ex-husband was completely focused on the road ahead.  Uh huh.  No distractions here.  So I can’t begin to understand how he missed the SUV in front of them.  Oh, he saw it just before impact.  But when he tried to jam on the brakes he realized the pedal was on the other side of the car.  And honestly, she couldn’t move her feet very fast with a razor in such a precarious position.  I hope she was at least able to move the razor.

And here’s the best part.  After she rear-ended an unsuspecting motorist, the most the investigating officer could do for that particular offense was cite her for reckless driving.  Because apparently there is no law in the state of Florida that specifically prohibits shaving your privates while driving.  Of course, she was also driving on a suspended license, having been convicted of driving under the influence one day earlier.  Go figure.

Okay, so this story is a bit more risqué than most of my posts.  But in the context of distracted driving, it can’t be completely ignored.  I mean, I used to get onto my daughter all the time for sending text messages while driving.  But after reading this one, I had to put things in perspective.  There are, after all, varying degrees of stupid.

So far, thirty states have banned texting while driving, and eight states don’t allow drivers to use a handheld cell phone at all.  These laws are backed by accident statistics and studies that suggest a driver using a cell phone is as dangerous as a drunk driver.  I don’t think they did a study on shaving.

These studies involved drivers of varying experience levels behind the wheel of a simulator.  Not surprisingly, the drivers were much more accident-prone while talking on a cell phone.  But what is a bit of an eye-opener is that their reaction time didn’t return to normal for almost five minutes after the call ended.  If that’s true, some drivers are never quite “sober.”

According to the researchers, the fact that one hand was occupied with a phone was inconsequential.  But we only have a certain number of brain cells available at any point in time, and phone conversations tap into that resource pool.  And as we’ve already seen, some pools aren’t all that deep to begin with.

The state of Ohio is considering a ban on texting while driving.  Already the news blogs are buzzing with heated debate.  I read them, not because they’ll have any influence on pending legislation.  I mean seriously, politicians listening to their constituents?  Get real.  But these blogs are just plain funny, if not a little scary.

Invariably, someone will claim they’re especially gifted behind the wheel, that they can safely drive a car with no hands and with both eyes shut.  According to them, the “real” problem is other drivers who are eating, putting on makeup, or talking to passengers.  Oddly enough, nobody mentioned shaving.

And they have a point.  Any distraction is unsafe.  I think when we sit behind the wheel of a moving car, we have an obligation to focus on the task at hand with both hands on the wheel and our eyes on the road.  Because it’s the only way we can dodge these idiots who are too busy typing to drive.

As I mentioned earlier, I ride a motorcycle.  It changes the way you drive.  You notice lots of little things you never noticed before, because your life may depend on it.  I’ve always said riding safely means looking at every car around you and asking yourself, “What’s the dumbest thing that person could do right now?”  You’d be surprised at how often those prophecies are fulfilled.

And I can honestly say that every time a car has drifted into my lane or started to pull out in front of me, the driver was chatting on a cell phone.  Every single time.  About half of those were hands-free, which makes me believe those studies were correct.  Holding a phone isn’t the problem – it’s the lack of focus.

I don’t usually rant in my blogs – I save that for my wife and kids.  But the underlying purpose of these articles is to share thoughts that can make life better, and few things can mess your day up quicker than being involved in an accident, especially one that could have been prevented. 

I’m no different from most other people.  I have a pretty high opinion of my driving ability, and I can safely do things behind the wheel that would lead a lesser man into the arms of disaster.  Just ask me.  But age has a way of making me realize it’s luck, not skill, that’s kept me out of trouble so far.  And I know that could all change in an instant.

The point is, that’s true for all of us.  It’s not good to go through life afraid of everything, but we do have to at least acknowledge the risks in the things we do.  Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time before we fall victim to them.

Odds are most of us will go through life without ever being involved in a serious accident.  But we can tip the scale by taking our focus off the road, and some things are more dangerous than others.   So text if you must, but do the rest of us a favor – leave the razor at home.

Copyright 2011 – Dave Glardon

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About Health and Humor - by Dave Glardon

Dave Glardon is a writer, speaker, and stand-up comedian. He has written hundreds of articles relating to humor in our world, and has performed for audiences across the entire United States. In this blog, he shares his insights with the goal of helping you achieve a higher level of physical and mental well-being through a healthy sense of humor.
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12 Responses to Flirting With Disaster Or Just A Close Shave?

  1. BARB BEST says:

    Hilarious, and so true. Ha, texting while driving is evil!

  2. Jan from Montana says:

    Dave, I can’t agree with you more about doing anything other than drive when you’re behind the wheel of a ton or more deadly weapon called a car, or a pickup!
    Five long years ago our son, on his way from one job location to another, was t-boned by a gal who ran a stop sign and didn’t see him. Why? She was having an argument with her husband while on her cell phone.
    They had to cut him out of his car with the jaws of life. He had 4 broken vertebrae, a broken wrist, and a really bad concussion.
    He’s had 3 serious operations; two on his neck to fuse the vertebrae there, and one to put permanent pins in his wrist so he can use his hand. He still has at least 3 more serious operations to go on his lower back to fuse those vertebrae. He is in constant pain, and is unable to work since he takes very strong prescription pain medication and can’t drive. He is unable lift anything more than 5 pounds. That includes his new granddaughter!
    My son is now age 50.
    When you drive…DRIVE!
    When you aren’t driving, don’t let the driver do anything other than DRIVE!
    That vehicle is a deadly weapon.
    My conclusion about the whole thing is: You can’t cure stupid.
    Hugs…
    And thanks for letting me vent…

    • Jan, I’m really sorry to hear about your son’s accident and injuries. While I don’t think we can legislate all manner of distractions out of our lives, this is a perfect example of what can happen when the car is moving and the driver isn’t paying attention. A few years ago, we had four young girls killed in a head-on wreck as they were passing a truck. According to cell phone records, the driver sent a text message seconds before the accident. It happens, and faster than any of us would like to believe.

      I wish your son all the best in his recovery. I’ve had spinal surgery myself, so I know there’s no such thing as complete recovery, but I sure hope he can at least pick up that beautiful little granddaughter someday soon.

  3. ButMadNNW says:

    I maintain that bad drivers will be bad drivers regardless of any other distractions going on. Once you reach the appropriate level of competence, most of the minor details of driving (when to put your foot on the pedal, how hard to press it, the micromovements of the wheel to keep your vehicle straight, etc.) are safely handled by the unconscious mind while your conscious mind is watching the road, daydreaming about your day (even our own minds can distract us!), listening to talk radio, conversing with your passenger (if the brain cells are the problem, why are we not outlawing talking to the other people in your car?), or whatever. A nice demonstration of this is to drive somewhere with a passenger, and start explaining to them step-by-step, every little step, how you’re driving – bring the processes into the conscious mind (“think too hard” about it), and it’s suddenly harder to do the task.

    Another example of the above: in a computer programming class, we were to write down instructions to a computer on how to do some simple, everyday task, like make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Computers know nothing we don’t tell them, so when a student would start their list of instructions with “get out two slices of bread”, the instructor pointed out that the computer doesn’t know how to open the bag that holds the loaf. Even simple tasks contain steps we never consciously think about.

    I personally drive much better when I have music playing. In a completely silent car, where I’m doing “nothing but driving”, I tense up and start making stupid mistakes. If I have music on (and even am singing along), I’m more relaxed and can enter the “flow” of driving much more easily.

    I mean, don’t be stupid – keep those eyes forward, driving with your elbows is ridiculous, that text can wait until you’re at a red light or pulled over, your makeup can wait until you get to the bathroom at work, gulp down your food at stop signs, keep it short if you must make a (hands free!) call, etc. – but in most reasonable situations, if you’re a competent driver, you can also trust in your unconscious to help you out.

    Somehow, cell phones have become the demonized breed of distracted driving. I’d love to see some statistics about other forms of distractions, or some statistics on how many people talk on their cell phones and never cause an accident. (And for the record, I use my cell phone’s speakerphone function in the car sparingly and frequently yell at my housemate for holding her phone while driving.)

    As Dennis Miller used to say: “Of course, this is just my opinion; I could be wrong.”

    Oh, and for the “so frequently repeated, it’s now cliché” cell phone/drunk comparison, I defer to the Mythbusters: You can always hang up the phone, but you can’t just stop being drunk.

    • Thanks for weighing in. While you make some strong points, I have to respectfully disagree. Yes, driving is instinctive, and so is making a peanut butter sandwich. The difference is, I’ve never had to take split-second evasive action to prevent killing myself or somebody else while making a peanut butter sandwich. But in a car that’s traveling 58 feet per second around town and requires 120 feet to stop, a fraction of a second can mean the difference between disaster and a close call. And it’s been repeatedly proven that when people are talking on a cell phone, their reaction time is measurably slower.

      You said a person can hang up the phone but you can’t stop being drunk. That’s true. But for the time people are on the phone, hand-held or hands-free, their reaction time is slowed to the same level as a drunk driver. Driving requires more than the subconscious act of staying between the lines. When that ball rolls out from between two cars, or the person in front of you hits his brakes for no apparent reason, that reaction time may be what keeps everybody alive.

  4. Sharon says:

    You make some valid points. I notice I am not quite as vigilant if I have a passenger. The conversation distracts me more than I’d care to admit. Cell phones, changing cds, and makeup all have to wait until I’m stopped somewhere. I’ve even pulled off the interstate just to change cds.

    But shaving her personal area! ROFLMAO!!! As dangerous as it is the mental image is a hoot!

    When I was a kid I remember my dad roaring with laughter while reading the local police report. A man was ticketed for reckless driving after rear-ending the car in front of him at the stop light. His excuse – his passsenger was adjusting her nylon stockings.

    • See, the thing is, I’m not completely innocent here because I use a cell phone on the road more often than I should. But I’ve noticed lately that after I hang up, I really can’t remember a single thing about the ground I’ve covered, and that’s not safe. I notice other cars, and if somebody does something stupid I remember that. But if it was a routine drive, it’s like it vanishes into thin air.

      And those nylon stockings – that can be a real distraction. I’d say the guy had a shot at a temporary insanity plea.

  5. Jo Bryant says:

    Really funny but sad as well to read this – because it is only luck that she did not kill someone…

  6. Bill says:

    And I thought I had heard everything Dave. Dead set funny and dead set stupid.
    There really is so many disfuctional people all over the world.
    I think antisipation is the safest way to drive.
    Why cant people do the right thing instead of the wrong ????

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