Albany is about two-and-a-quarter hours north of where I live in the NYC area. I was driving up to Albany one morning early this year. It’s a drive I’ve made countless times. First, during the four years I went to college in Albany in the 1980s, and more recently during the four years I passed Albany en route to visit my son at college in Montreal.
It’s an easy drive, but it is a bit tedious—a straight shot, without a lot to see in the winter (and nothing at all to see at night.) This particular drive was the first half of a same-day round-trip—I was attending a business conference and would arrive in time for the lunch session, and depart after a the dinner event.
Early on in the trip, I did a double-take as a I passed a sign for one of the first service areas on the New York State thruway. “Text Stop” the sign said, where it normally would say “Rest Stop.” “How clever,” I thought. “Text stop” appeared at every subsequent service area.
I love the idea of text stops. If not for the text stops, I would have made the drive straight through, and I would not have looked at my phone. I had no interest in texting, but there were e-mails I wanted to see, so at the second “Text Stop,” I pulled in and checked my e-mails.
What a brilliant idea. As we all know, there are people who text while they drive. It has been proven to be even more dangerous than driving under the influence, and while there are some punishments for getting caught, the punishments are not severe and people are still doing it.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about giving up the habit of using my smartphone in the car. I hadn’t been texting while moving, but I had, on occasion, done so when I was not moving, such as at a red light. This was the most powerful part of that post (because it was the powerful lesson that I learned)…
I had previously thought that looking at the phone was okay when I wasn’t moving. What harm could come of it, I figured. What’s the worst case? Maybe some impatient person behind me would blow their horn to get me to move when the light changed?
Well, I was wrong on all counts. First, the worst case is what didn’t happen but could have when I started into the intersection on instinct. Second, I realized that it’s not the guy behind me blowing the horn who was impatient, it was me. I didn’t have the patience to wait until I got where I was going before looking at my smartphone.
(Here’s a link to the full piece if you want to read it.)
Kudos to the person who had the “Text Stop” idea, and kudos to the NYS Thruway Authority who showed that bureaucratic organizations (I am assuming they fall into this category) can move quickly when presented with a win-win idea.
Kudos to everyone who has never texted while driving or who has stopped the habit. If you haven’t stopped the habit, please do so. If you have some thoughts on the subject, please join the conversation with your comments…