Under the influence

Why does it seem that there are way more bad drivers than good ones?

As I drive around the back streets and freeways everyday, I continually ask myself this question. I am saying this with the proclamation that I am not a perfect driver. I have had my share of fender benders, and there are certainly moments where I could be a more thoughtful, intuitive driver. This is not my focus though; what I am talking about is not pure driving ability and technique. I am refering to a general apathy and disregard for fellow humans that manifests itself in careless and thoughtless driving. In many ways, this is even more unforgivable than mere lack of technique. That, at least, one can chalk up to inexperience and confidence levels.

What seems to be the major problem plaguing public ways is a cavalier attitude coupled with a disregard for anyone or anything outside a driver’s own vehicle. Today’s information technology seems to oftentimes cloud the clarity that a driver should have while operating their vehicle. We are distracted by navigation systems, text messaging, in-dash dvd players, satellite radio, voice mail messaging, smartphone emails, and many other technological advancements that prevent us from doing the one thing we should be focusing ALL of our attention on when operating a vehicle: driving.

Thanks to great education and intelligent advertising, operating under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol is now a social taboo, as well it should be. Law enforcement as well as the average citizen are more vigilant than ever about cracking down on this, and tolerance for these activities have diminished greatly. The question I ask myself, however,  is this:

Is it any more dangerous to have a driver under the influence of alcohol than it is to have a driver under the influence of technology?

Personally, I think I’d rather take my chances with the drunk driver. At least I have a fighting chance with them. They are usually trying to maintain control. Those drivers under the influence of technology are so consumed with their own inward selfish needs that they are not even cognizant of any happenings outside their own vehicle. I don’t think that most of them are bad people, I just think they don’t think about anything or anyone but themselves in certain situations.

These revelations may coming as jarring to some. “How could he compare a guy on his cell phone to a drunk driver!!?,” I hear you cry. It’s not that I am downplaying driving under the influence. It is a totally avoidable and irresponsible activity. I’ve lost a family member to it. I just think that due to social taboos, we view it as more dangerous and unacceptable than driving under the influence and distraction of technology, and I don’t think we should. If you tell your friends and co-workers that you got wasted and sped through traffic to get to a bar before it closed, they will rebuke you and scold you for your immaturity and irresponsibility. If you tell the same people that you sped though traffic while on a conference call to get to a meeting on time, they will applaud you for your ingenuity.

Perhaps this dangerous double-standard should change.

But then, that’s just my opinion.

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