Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day 156: No Phone Zone

Hello, my name is Stephanie and up until Day 156, I text-messaged when I drove.

I'm not proud of it, but isn't the first step in overcoming a problem, admitting that there is one? So go ahead, judge me. I deserve it. I was a multi-tasker who thought she was invincible to the dangers of distracted driving.

Truthfully, I didn't think texting and driving was such a big deal, but like those who swear they drive safely even after they've had a few drinks, I think I had an elevated view of my driving skills.

Until now.

I didn't see the episode, but I had heard about Oprah's campaign to stop distracted driving, so I went onto her website, watched a clip of the show, and read some of the stories of families whose lives have been forever changed because of distracted driving.

On principle, or perhaps out of spite, I try not to blindly do whatever Oprah tells me to do. I learned my lesson after getting sucked into reading James Frey's book, A Million Little Pieces, telling virtually every single person how amazing his TRUE story that OPRAH loves was, only to find out weeks later that he was a huge fraud. That wasn't completely Oprah's fault, and I think she does a lot of really great things, but I question all of the people who listen to every single word she says as if it was the Gospel.

Plus, I was somewhat annoyed that she was so high and mighty about the "Texting and Driving" thing, seeing as how Oprah lives in Chicago and she's Oprah so I doubt she ever drives herself anywhere ever. And she doesn't have to be a multi-tasker like so many Americans do because she's Oprah and she pays people to multi-task for her. If she needs to send or read a text message, she can summon someone on her staff to do it on her behalf.

Still, the dangers of distracted driving are real and the stories on her show were compelling. Day 156's thing I've never done before was to follow the thousands that have signed Oprah's pledge and add my name to the list of people who are making a conscious effort to stop texting and driving.

I'm probably most guilty of reading texts while driving. I'd read emails on my Blackberry on the way into work and never hesitate to read a text message from a friend on my phone if it came in while I driving.

But I truly didn't realize how much I was allowing myself to be distracted by my mobile devices until I made a vow to stop using them.

Putting my name on the pledge was the easy part. Leaving my phone and Blackberry in my purse when I'm in the car, well, that's been a different story.

The day after I signed Oprah's pledge, I had to run errands and was mindful not to use my phone on the way. When I finally got out of my car and could use my phone again, I texted someone while walking from one store to the next, and tripped.

I immediately thought two things:

1. I'm a klutz

2. If I can't walk and text, there is no question that I shouldn't ever be driving and texting.

Weeks after signing the pledge, I still find myself reaching for my Blackberry to send a text message or read an email. Just like breaking any other bad habit, I'm learning how to spend my time in the car just driving and not allowing myself to be distracted by other things.

Though I can't recall any close calls that I've had as a result of texting and driving, I am 100 percent confident that nothing I've ever sent or read in a text message is worth risking my life or the lives of innocent other drivers and pedestrians. So I will continue to try and break this bad habit of reaching for the phone when I drive.

If you'd like to take Oprah's pledge, you can do it here.


  1. Good for you! I am trying it too...I am not so bad at the texting while driving just trying not to talk on the phone and drive.