Drivers using cellphones are major hazards on roads

Duane Dailey

How we think and how we believe we think are two different things.

Inside our heads, we’re sure we know what we are doing. And, that we think logically. What others see and what science shows is quite different.

Our brain takes short cuts. It jumps to conclusions. And here’s the one that fools all: Our brain cannot multitask. It deals with one thing at a time. Every time.

Now, think about how you drive. Do you pay full attention to driving while steering your car down the road. If so, you’re one of a kind. Our minds get bored with steering and wander elsewhere. Constantly.

Our obsessions with cellphones and other devices brought distractions to our attention. Distracted driving becomes a major cause of death.

Columbia passed a distracted-driving ordinance. You can’t drive and gab on the phone. Nor, fiddle with the radio, eat a cheeseburger or read a newspaper.

I still see people with a phone to their ear. Some come up close and personal. Twice in one week, driving home on my street, women drivers zoomed up behind me, much too fast for comfort. Then they hung there, a few feet from my back bumper.

One woman had a regular cellphone to her ear. The other had a large device that blocked her view to all to our left.

That’s scary. In past episodes I learned you can’t speed up to outrun distracted drivers. Their mind tells those drivers to speed up.

A recent story told how many distracted drivers die in accidents in Missouri each year. Over one hundred.

My favorite author tells how our mind works. Daniel Kahneman won a Nobel Prize in economics for his work. It’s not economics as we usually think of it. He is a psychologist who studies how we learn and act. His book is “Thinking, Fast and Slow.”

The 500 pages aren’t an easy read. But, it can save lives. He has studies on how far we can drive down an Interstate highway with our mind elsewhere. We have no idea where we are.

When I traveled for Extension, I saw lots of odd things out on the interstate, once a driver passed me while playing a trumpet. Another time, I passed a car with the driver reading a book propped up on the steering wheel.

Science shows we cannot make our mind do two thing at once. That first driver’s mind was wiggling his fingers on the trumpet. The other’s mind was deep into a story in his book.

How many news stories have you read in which the driver died after overcorrecting after running off the right side of the road.

The distracted mind was shifted back to reality when the tires went off the road. There was no time for slow, logical thinking. The mind jumped to “Hey! Yank the steering wheel left.” That sudden move sends the car into a car coming the other direction. Happens often.

People die from “over correction.”

There are a couple of wreck stories that keep coming up in our newspaper as lawsuits work their way through the courts. In both cases, long-distance truck drivers rammed into lines of cars stopped for a wreck up ahead. The trucks never slowed but hit at full speed. Distracted minds?

While driving about town, I see many distracted drivers. Then I realized I’m distracted looking for bad drivers. The law can’t stop distracted driving. Every driver must concentrate on life-saving action at hand.

Seat belt laws require us to buckle up. But, too many do not. Buckling up should be a habit. A habit, a fast way of thinking, can be helpful.

Recent news told of another fatal hazard. Those sunroofs allow a driver to fly half way out that small hole in rollover crashes. Being halfway out of the car when the car rolls on its roof isn’t healthy. Buckle up.

Tell your escape to or 511 W. Worley, Columbia, Mo., 65203.