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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hi, My Name is Amy and I WAS a Distracted Driver-The Oprah Pledge

Written by Amy, one of the original moms without a blog

I can’t believe I really did it.

I really, really really did it …

I took Oprah’s No Phone Zone Pledge today. I actually went to her website and typed in my email address, city and state and officially took this pledge:
I pledge to make my car a No Phone Zone. Beginning right now, I will do my part to help put an end to distracted driving by not texting or using my phone while I’m driving. I will ask other drivers I know to do the same. I pledge to make a difference.

Yep, you got it. I’m giving up my phone while I drive. Turning it OFF while I drive.

In a way it feels liberating.

In a way it feels damn scary.

This is not going to be easy for me. My car was THE place to make my phone calls during the day. No way was I going to call my friends or colleagues from home and dig into my home time. I was all about which calls I can make and cross off my list while I was driving my car.

No more.

I’m done.

I saw the faces of those who had lost loved ones to others who were distracted because of their phones. I don’t want to be on either side of that story.

Oh yeah I fully admit that I was a distracted driver. I’d missed exits because I was engrossed in conversation or done a little swerving because my eyes weren’t on the road. By behaving like this I felt like I was teaching my kids that this behavior is OK. That it was OK to risk their lives because I needed to see who was calling me, or chat with a friend to catch up. Not gonna happen – no more.

It really struck me when Oprah’s team showed a shot out the front window of a car which showed pedestrians, a stop sign, a dog, bikers etc. and how many of these items we don’t see while talking on the phone because our brain can only handle so much information. While on the phone, many of these items simply disappear from our radar screen. We just don’t see them because we can’t see them, because our brain is being used up by our conversation.

The fatality statistics for talking on your phone and driving are the same as they are for drunk driving – 4 times higher than if you weren’t talking or you were sober. The statistics jump to 8 times higher if you are texting while driving.

So, I’m done. Call me at home if you want to chat.

Hi … my name is Amy … I was a distracted driver and now have 14 days clean, sober and distraction free.
**After I got on my high horse up there, I got knocked right off as I used my phone twice in the car today. I’ll spare you the circumstances. One call was necessary, one was not. I guess you can say I fell off the wagon. Ok, so now I’m 1 day clean, sober and distraction free. Starting over and taking it one day at a time.


  1. So glad you made up your mind to drive w/out a phone in your ear.

    I never talk and drive but if I do, the law in California is that you need an earpiece, which I only use if I'm going to meet someone and then I make them call me.

    I was once driving to LAX and talking on the phone to a friend. In the middle of the call I looked up and said "OH MY GOD WHERE THE HELL AM I?"

    I hung up on my friend, (even tho I was on an earpiece)continued to drive and realized I was on the right path to LAX. While talking I had simply not recognized ANY landmarks. That scared the crap out of me.

  2. you better hope oprah doesn't find out that you fell off the wagon. you do NOT want to cross oprah.

    in all seriousness, this is such a simple, but difficult thing to do. i mean, hello? wasn't it just a short 20 years ago that we didn't even have cell phones? and if we did, they were in those huge bag things, and who wants to be caught dead talking on that??

    i think i will succumb to the mwob peer pressure (even though us mwobbers are supposed to be immune to peer pressure), and take the pledge. but i am going to pledge to you, amy, and the other mwobbers, not to oprah. i can't get mixed up with her again. not after i have freed myself from her after a long and complicated relationship.

    so phone off while in car.

    thanks for the inspiration. and who knows, you might have saved some lives today!

  3. Thanks Amy! I needed this - I am SO bad about this. The thing that got me was what I am teaching my kids - especially since my 14 year old is a mere 3 1/2 months from getting her PERMIT! Yikes! And we always tell her - "phone off when you start driving!" .... while we are chatting away to who knows who...!
    Its just so automatic now, "who do I need to arrange a ride for, who do I need to catch up with."
    I haven't pledged yet because of that very 14 year old. I don't want to miss it if she calls or texts as I'm rushing to pick her up.
    I remember back in my early production years in the 90s when my pager would vibrate and I would get off the freeway, find the nearest pay-phone, put in the change and presto - I'm making a work call and I'm not a danger to anyone! Now with cell phones, WE JUST NEED TO COMMIT TO PULLING OVER to make that important call! Much easier than finding a payphone!
    I'm joining you and Deb in taking a MWOB oath. No phone while driving...period. I'm just going to take it day by day. Make us check on how we're doing, Amy! :)

  4. You go Girl!!! More people need to take this pledge...I wont use my cell while in my car mainly because I cant walk and chew gum at the same time so drive and talk out of the question...

  5. I do talk on the phone with an earpiece. Bad! I know. I texted once and almost rear-ended the car in front of me, who was a friend I was following in a city neither of us knew our way around. A friend of mine wrecked yesterday while trying to mess with her phone - kids in car. No one was hurt, but it was a sharp reminder of what not to do!

  6. Congratulations on committing to reducing your in-car distractions, Amy! Distracted driving is a complicated behavioral issue, as you've seen - recent reserach suggests that as a society, we've become addicted to things like texting because it triggers dopamine release, making it really tough to ignore that little "ping" when a new one comes in.

    Another solution to the problem of distracted driving due to cell phone use is ZoomSafer, available at Download it to your phone, and it uses GPS to know when you're driving and shuts off texting and emailing automatically. You can still make calls - but only in hands-free mode. As a bonus, you can use ZoomSafer to block all incoming calls, too. You'll be a more focused driver but still be able to make and take those emergency calls - if you decide you want to.

  7. OKay Ames. I have to be honest I am mixed on this. I KNOW I should put my phone out of site and not check emails etc while sitting at a stoplight. BUT I really feel I can NOT give up talking. I always go hands-free and I just can not imagine not using my rare spare free time returning a call etc while driving! Am I horrible? Maybe. I don't like talking on the freeway for a long time because I do get zoned out. I've realized that. BUT around town, going to pick up the kids at school, I always have a list of calls to return and I just don't think I can do it!!

    Can I take a pledge that says I won't check email at stop lights??? I will!!!

    I love this post. Thank you for it my friend.

  8. I can honestly say that I have been much better for about a month now....due to the fact that I lost my hands free device and I don't want a ticket! My favorite time to talk on the phone in the car(and catch up with my brother or my cousin or my daughter-in-law etc)was between Oceanside and San Clemente. You are making me rethink my plan to get a new device. Thanks for making me think.


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