Posted by: joannabrandi | November 11, 2009

Dead From Distraction?

Like many of the attendees at the NACCM Customers First conference last week I was excited to see Michael Tchong (www.ubercool.com) as one of our closing keynotes. Michael (besides being ubercool is uber informative and engaging in his presentations. He playfully engaged the audience and kept us involved in his thoroughly well done peek at the future of our world – which is without a doubt a digital one.

Michael asked this audience of professionals (not teenagers, mind you, grown-ups) how many people texted while driving. I’d say about 20%- 30% of the audience raised their hands. I looked around the room and saw people I knew with their hands in the air. I must say I was a bit taken back, after all we all know the dangers, yes?

And then he asked how many people emailed while driving and hands went up all over the place – I’m guessing maybe 50% of the people, perhaps more, and many had big smiles on their faces as if they were proud of the fact they could do both – drive and email at the same time.

I was stunned. Yes, I do talk on the phone when I drive sometimes, usually hands free. Like many I find drive time a convenient time to catch up. But more and more these days I am choosing to pay closer attention to my driving and listen to music or just think while in the car. I’ve been on my daughter’s case about it as well, knowing that the precious cargo in the back seat, my grandbaby, deserves her full attention on the road.

Seeing the large number of my colleagues with their hands waving in the air admitting to driving while distracted was disturbing. I know these people and I know they wouldn’t drive while drunk.

Texting and Emailing – and even just talking on the phone creates a distraction. Enough to kill you.

Yesterday I was interviewing a new client before I designed the keynote speech I’ll be doing for him. Just a few minutes into the presentation he said. “Uh, you know about Buddy, don’t you?”

“Buddy? What about Buddy?”

“He died last week in a car crash.”

Buddy is the man that brought the two of us together when he invited me to do a CEO Summit in Alabama a few months ago. My new client had been in the audience there.

All he knew that was Buddy was driving back to his office from appointments, about a two hour trip, he never made it. It was a one car crash.

As soon as I got off the phone I called the one person that I thought might know more. She was still pretty shook up. I asked her what she knew. She didn’t know much more but she had a supposition.

It seems Buddy had been on the phone with her just a short time before the police said the car crashed. He asked her to send him some emails. One thing she knew for sure, Buddy was working while he was driving.

No one really knows what happened and in all likelihood, I’ll send the condolence card to his wife and not pursue it any further. My intuition is pulling strongly in the direction of thinking that what she said was right. Buddy was a high achiever and a busy man. He’s had to reschedule our last two scheduled phone calls. It was a familiar road and he had a lot of time. What would you do?

For me this is a wake-up call. Buddy’s gone and I saw a group full of responsible caring adults admitting to driving while distracted. For the sake of what?

We don’t drive when we are drunk, yet

  • Distraction from cell phone use while driving (hand held or hands free) extends a driver’s reaction as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (University of Utah)
  • The No.1 source of driver inattention is use of a wireless device. (Virginia Tech/NHTSA)
  • Drivers that use cell phones are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (NHTSA, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
  • 10 percent of drivers aged 16 to 24 years old are on their phone at any one time.
  • Driving while distracted is a factor in 25 percent of police reported crashes.
  • Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent  (Carnegie Mellon)

http://www.nationwide.com/newsroom/dwd-facts-figures.jsp

Let’s all please think of Buddy’s wife Tina when we go to send that message that can’t wait, and the rest of his family who won’t have the pleasure of his company, and all the clients that relied on him for their sales training and sage advice on running their businesses.

And if you think you’re so good at it that it’ll never happen to you – go here and play a little game:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/07/19/technology/20090719-driving-game.html

Let’s let caring for our customers extend out to the people in our communities – the ones on the road around us. Let’s please please please be uber care-full about what we do behind the wheel of a 2 ton metal machine.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: