Friday 7 December 2012

Driving hazards

There are a few things that scare the shit out of me when I see them on the road -
  • People who can't see over the dashboard
  • People talking on their cell phones
  • People texting while driving
  • People reading the newspaper while driving
  • A "Student Driver" sign
  • A driver pretending to be Mario Andretti
I always try to get as far away from these people as possible, because you simply can't devote enough attention to your surroundings when you're too busy fixing your makeup while txting your besty that omg dis song sux!!

There are some very impressive recent studies that have shown that driving while distracted is just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.  If you text while driving, you are 23 times more likely to crash.  Almost 20% of all crashes which are severe enough to cause injuries are caused by distracted drivers.  At highway speeds, in the length of time it takes to read or write a text message, you travel over 100 m (that's the length of a football field), all while not looking at the road

Just one of these distractions is enough to make your 2000kg missile loaded with explosive fuel dangerous enough.  Add more than one of them together, and you get what happened to Miss M (not her real name), a reader from Australia who wrote me an email about her experience in a car crash.  It's enough to make your head spin.
Hi Doc,
My name is Miss M {still not her real name}.  I'm 26 and I'm a nurse from {edited}, Australia and I read your blog constantly!!  Can I say being a nurse we need a lot more doctors like you around!!  I thought I'd share my story with you.  This happened to me last year.  In Australia when you have completed 120 hours of driving under the supervision of a full licence holder, you become eligible to drive without supervision but with speed limit restrictions of 90 kph {55 mph for our American friends}.  I was stopped to turn right when I heard a screeching noise.  I looked in my rear view mirror but didn't see anything.  Next thing I know, BAM!  I was hit from behind with such force that I was pushed into oncoming traffic where I was hit by another car.  All three cars were destroyed, but no one was killed.  I found out later that the driver who caused the accident was a 17 year old boy who was doing 110 kph in a 50 kph zone while texting.  And to add insult to injury, not once did he even say sorry to me or the other driver for what he did.  Teenagers these days think that they are invincible and that texting and driving is ok, but as you can see from these pictures, it's not.  He could have killed someone else if not himself.  He is now paying over $63,000 in fines and damages, he lost his licence for 3 years, and got charged with negligent driving, colliding with a stationary vehicle, and speeding.  The message needs to get out to young ones that it is not worth texting and driving.
Keep up the fantastic work, Doc!
Miss M

Over 200 billion text messages are sent each month, and I guarantee that 99.999% of them can wait until you've arrived at your destination to be sent.  If you're driving and you really really REALLY have to tell someone something, either pull over and send your message, or put down your goddamned phone and JUST WAIT UNTIL LATER.


  1. Another fact: you're 23 times more likely to get in trouble in class for using your phone while reading this blog.

    Good story. Texting while driving is something I've promised myself I'll never, EVER do. If it's an emergency then pull over, but if you're not 100% concentrated, then you're 100% DIstracted and can be fatal, though thankfully not in OP's case.

    I don't think these new FB car apps help either, it just encourages distraction.

    Well, time to practice what I preach. Gotta go!

    1. OP? Lol, *Miss M.

      My FML thought process is bleeding over onto here. That's the last time I use both simultaneously.

  2. I am really glad you posted this. People that text and drive absolutely bothers me. I don't even talk on my cell phone when I am driver much less text. I wish the laws regarding texting and driving were more enforced. In my state(Iowa) it is a primary misdemeanor if you are a minor and a secondary misdemeanor if you are an adult.

  3. I'm just happy that everyone came away alive, including the normal occupant of the buggy that can be seen in Miss M's mangled boot (US: trunk)!

    Did you know that, at least in the UK, child seats only have to be tested to 30mph? Sure, they're better than nothing at higher speeds but I found it hard to believe their performance at 60 was not even tested! You can't drive at 30 'till your kids reach 18 and even if you did that wouldn't stop idiot teenagers rear-ending you at 70.

    Personally, I can't even hold a coherent conversation while driving, far less text anyone. If your mind is on the road, you really shouldn't have enough spare "processor time" to do anything much else.

  4. I have a friend who got in a nasty car accident (went into a ditch and hit a concrete culvert) because he looked down to open a can of Redbull sitting in the cup holder. He had hairline fractures of a couple of his cervical vertebrae, broke both of his arms, one of his legs, and several ribs.

    All it takes is a tiny distraction. Take your eyes off of the road for a second, and you could be done for.

    When I'm driving, my phone sits in my purse on the passenger seat on vibrate, or, if I have passengers and it happens to ring, I'll ask them to tell me who is calling and have them answer if it's my 82 year old grandma. Anyone else can wait.

    I haven't driven in a year because I'm on morphine - even though my response time and coherence level are fine, I was tested by my physiotherapist, I REFUSE to get behind the wheel of a car. If I fuck up because of drugs in my system? I'd never forgive myself.

    People texting while driving, holding their phone up to their ear (speakerphone doesn't bother me as much, my boyfriend drives his Dad's Prius and it routes through the car stereo system, so no fiddling with the phone), weaving all over the road... All of that scares the hell out of me. And I live in Montreal, home of some of the most unpredictable drivers in North America (we're the only Canadian city that doesn't allow right turns on red lights, and the only American city that doesn't is New York). People don't signal, don't move over when you're trying to merge, run red lights and stop signs, cut you off, ride your bumper even though it's clear you have no way to move over at that particular instance, don't stop for pedestrians (at stop signs OR crosswalks), and in general are giant penises behind the wheel. I learned from my Dad, who is an Ontario driver (not Toronto) turned Montreal driver, so at least I drive like a sane person and know how to use my turn signal.

  5. I have to say, you're really cool. :) I used to work at a hospital (I documented it here: and was infuriated by the lack of care the medical community produced. You seem really caring and competent, I'd love to shake your hand.

  6. My husband used to get so mad at me for not answering my phone and I'd have to wait to explain that I was driving. Finally I stuck Velcro to my phone and dash. If someone calls I touch the answer button without removing my eyes from the road and it automatically goes to speakerphone. I also refuse to eat while driving, and only drink if my beverage has a straw and I have a passenger to hand it to me.


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