One of the senior ICU physicians said something the other day that really resonated with me. “You may think you are a great multi-tasker, but brain imaging has proven that it is impossible for us to multi-task. Instead, we only have the ability to rapidly flip between two tasks. It’s literally impossible for us to focus on two things at once.”
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As drivers this means that no matter how good we are at keeping our minds on the road, it’s truly impossible for us to stay focused if we are doing something else, be it answering a text message or putting on lipstick in the mirror. As a pediatrician, this has extra importance, as teenagers are an exceptionally high risk group of driver. I try to take a minute to talk about the dangers of cell phone use and distracted driving to all my teen patients I see in clinic. If you have a teenager at home, I hope you’ll take a moment to do the same.
One of the first things I was told when we moved to California was that there was a law against using a handheld cell phone while driving here. “You know you can get a ticket for talking on your phone, right?” my friend warned me earnestly. Instead of being annoyed, I was thrilled to learn the government here makes our safety a priority and that people took it seriously enough to spread the word. Hopefully more states follow suit, as every bit helps! You can encourage a law in your state by calling your local senator or representative.
Shortly before we moved to San Francisco, Pat purchased a new stereo with Bluetooth capability so that we can talk on the phone without having to look at it or worry about touching a single button. Instead the phone automatically answers and the conversation is played through our stereo speakers. The same is true for driving directions, which I use all the time and can be completely distracting if not used properly. I just tee up the directions before I put the car in drive and the instructions are conveyed to me in surround sound. For the new stereo and installation, it was $200 well spent. Not pocket change, but I’ve spent that sort of money of far less practical things.
My fellow physicians in the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons agree with me about the dangers of distracted driving. They have partnered with the Auto Alliance to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. To kick off their Decide to Drive campaign, they are hosting a Decide to Drive Catchphrase Contest. If you contribute the best catchphrase, you could win big! The contest will run from May 30 to June 13, so you have plenty of time to think of something clever.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own. I’m thankful to them for the opportunity to talk about something I care so much about.
All photos are by Pat and are from our trip to Cuba.