This morning I was making Alexander breakfast and listening to NPR. George W Bush was giving an interview about the biography he wrote about his father. I was intrigued and every time W talks I like to listen. I want to know what made Reagan call him The Idiot Son (besides the obvious). Today he proved himself to be absolutely moronic and more than a little dangerous (but as it’s Veterans Day we already knew that about him).
If you’re not interested in listening to the full eight minutes you can begin around the 3:30 mark. This is where W talks about his “youthful exuberance” and recounts a time where he played tennis with Jimmy Alison, drank too much and then proceeded to drive home and run over the neighbor’s trash cans.
Can someone please explain to me when we started confusing drunk driving with youthful exuberance? Trash cans are significantly larger than neighbor’s dogs or children. Why is this is a story that’s told without shame? Deep shame and regret.
In just a matter of days my daughter will be driving independently. She will experience freedom and responsibility unlike ever before. Most of us have a story about a kid dying in a car. They didn’t wear a seatbelt, they drove drunk, they were texting or they got hit by a drunk driver. Thanks President. Your exuberance is really cool.
In 2010 32,999 Americans died in car accidents. In 2010 31,076 Americans died from gunshot wounds.
Which leads me to another conversation I wasn’t going to have but I’ve decided that it’s too important to ignore.
Yesterday I got an email asking me if I’d like to interview a founder of an app that would keep teen drivers safe. Here is an excerpt from the email:
Did you know? Sixteen-year-olds are 20 times more likely to be killed in a car crash than an adult. When you introduce bad habits like texting while driving it seems like those numbers can only get worse.
We know that it’s unrealistic for teens to completely disconnect from their phones while driving – not just because they need to keep up with their social lives – but because parents need to be able to stay in touch with them.
Can we please talk about all the ways you don’t need to be in touch with your teen? It’s really okay for them to be out of range for minutes, hours, days or even weeks. The cell phone doesn’t have to be a modern day umbilical cord. If your child is old enough to drive your child is old enough to not have to answer your frantic phone call every 20 seconds. Leave them alone.
The email goes on to say:
The company’s Caller ID Android app features Voice Cue and Text ID, which audibly announces who is texting or calling, whether the name is in the phone’s contact list or not, the moment the text or call arrives. Thus, allowing the driver to decide if the text is important enough to pull off the road and answer or ignore and continue driving safely.
Right, that’s what a 16 year old will do. Pull over.
My response to the publicist was the following:
Since I have a 16 year old this wouldn’t be useful. It’s actually illegal in California.
Drivers Younger Than 18
It is no secret that teen drivers are significantly more likely to be involved in car accidents. The statistics do not lie. Teen drivers have less driving experience and are easily distracted by passengers, food, talking or texting on their phones― all of which increase the likelihood of causing a serious crash.
While keeping these facts in mind, the state has modified the laws to make sure all drivers younger than 18 years old do not use a wireless telephone, pager, laptop or any other electronic mobile device to speak or text while driving; this applies even if they intend on using a hands-free headset. The only exception to this new rule is in emergency situations to call police, fire or medical authorities.
And perhaps most gallingly their response was:
Thanks for your response. I read through the material you sent me and wanted to clarify about the app.
The beauty of it is that it doesn’t require a user to hold a phone, let alone text on it, to be able to stay in touch. The app audibly announces who is calling or texting. That way drivers can decide if they want to pull over to respond. A teen or adult driver could have their phone in the backseat of their car and still be able to stay in touch.
For families with teens we recommend setting up a system where perhaps if they receive three texts from Mom or Dad, then that’s the signal that they have to pull over to respond.
I hope this clarifies it! We would never encourage texting while driving or using a phone while driving.
I live in Los Angeles. Kids here need cars to get around, we’re spread out and we don’t have good public transportation. My friends with kids older than mine have taught their kids to either power their phones completely down before hopping in the car or to put the phone in the trunk and to never pair it with the bluetooth in the first place.
Bloggers, parents and friends in the tech community I am begging you to not support apps that “make it safer” for teens to manage their cell phones in the car. It’s a huge number of deaths and currently distracted driving is proving to be more deadly than drunk driving. There is no safe way for a teen to manage a cell phone in the car. It simply needs to be turned off.