TTYL – It’s Not Just for Texting!

Purposeful Parent Tip:  Do not let your children talk with people who are on the phone while driving.

Like many of you, I watched The Oprah show in which she spoke of the devastation
caused by people texting or talking while driving. I was in tears after many of
them. Especially those that involved a child.

There was one particular episode where a teenager was texting her friend who ended up getting into a fatal car accident. She was consumed with guilt and remorse over her actions and implored people to stop this form of distracted driving. Her story was very convincing and I’m hopeful that people did in fact take her advice.

I know I did.

I never really had “conversations” while talking on the phone and driving. They were more like “drive-by” chats, taking only a minute or two to square away some small detail. Things like making a quick appointment or leaving a message for someone – nothing really big or important.

That’s right. Nothing really big or important.

So why did these mundane things rise to a level of importance that would cause me to pick up my ringing phone while driving? Poor judgement. Nothing more. Nothing less. I thought, like many, that I could take care of whatever the call was about and check another thing off my never-ending to-do list. Cool!

Then I saw Oprah’s show. I saw the mangled cars. I saw the devastated families. I saw the survivors. That’s all it took.

Now, when my phone rings in the car and I’m by myself, I let it ring. Am I tempted to see who it is? Sure. Do I sometimes glance over to check this out? Yes. Am I starting to simply leave it in my purse so that I don’t even have to deal with that temptation? Yes.

After my daughter’s basketball games, her father would call to congratulate or console her depending on the game’s outcome. Many times we knew that he was driving while calling. I instructed my daughter not to pick up. “But Mommy, Daddy’s calling me!”  My response was, “It can wait. He’s driving.”

There was no way I was going to allow my daughter to talk to her dad while he was driving. If he were to get into an accident, she would forever feel like it was her fault or that she was the cause. Nope. Not gonna happen. Nothing he had to say to her is that important.

Like many, I’m sure my ex-husband was not thinking it was any big deal to have a quick conversation with his daughter while driving. And maybe for some, it is no big deal. But for those few who have to live with the potentially horrible outcomes, it is a huge deal.

I told my ex-husband not to call the kids when he is driving (or me either for that matter.) I explained to him the possibility of what could happen and how he’d feel if he were the cause of any pain or suffering that might be experienced by the kids should something happen to him while talking on the phone with them. He got it. And when he sometimes forgets and calls them when we know he’s behind the wheel? No one picks up.

Sometimes it takes something drastic to change a habit or behavior. For those of you who are reading this and decide to never talk or text while driving, I congratulate you.

I encourage you to take it a step further and do as I did. Not only be the example you want your kids to follow by not talking or texting or taking part in any form of distracted driving, but think of the person who’s calling you.

If your children do pick up your phone, make the next words they utter after “Hello” be “Are you driving?” And if the answer is ‘yes’, your kids should know to say “Then I’ll talk to you later.”

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