Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

June 28, 2014

Opinion: The many distractions while driving

EFFINGHAM — Of course it was a hot, humid day when the air conditioner in Mary Ellen’s car decided to go on the fritz. That’s one of Murphy’s many laws, right? It wouldn’t matter if the air conditioner went out in December — assuming we were traveling in Illinois.

When something like that happens, it makes one realize how fortunate (spoiled?) we are to be living in a time when luxuries, such as air conditioning, are commonplace. We take it for granted that we are going to be comfortable all the time. Why, I remember when I was a kid and we didn’t have . . . .

If you are expecting this to be another little homily on gratitude and appreciation for the little things in life, well, you’re wrong. I have been a bit distracted lately. Specifically, I have been distracted by distracted driving.

You know, it’s real difficult to eat a large lemon ice cream cone when the temps are in the low 90s and the heat index is even higher. And it’s just really difficult to eat said cone while driving in a vehicle with no air conditioning. I mean, really, how is a person supposed to drive while rivulets of lemon ice cream are cascading down one’s arm and onto one’s lap?

My friend, Mary Ellen, said I should have gotten the ice cream in a cup. Yeah, that would have been a better option — using a spoon and eating out of a cup while driving! The best option would have been to stay at Tastee Treat and eat the ice cream while seated at a picnic table. What the hell were we thinking?

To be honest, I shouldn’t have been driving and trying to eat that dripping cone at the same time. My full concentration was not on the road, nor on traffic. I was more concerned and obsessed with getting that ice cream in my mouth and not on my clothing or the upholstery. And I said as much to Mary Ellen.

And people shouldn’t use cellphones or text while driving?

The entire incident got me to thinking about distracted driving in general. While we probably should have laws for the use of some things, there is no end to the many ways that people are distracted while operating a motor vehicle. Can we legislate every possible scenario? Can we legislate common sense? I think we all know the answer to that question.

As I said, I really shouldn’t have been eating that cone and trying to drive at the same time. But I did, and I will no doubt do something very similar in the near future to distract me from the task at hand, which is to concentrate on driving. I am just as guilty as others in that respect.

I was going to research this, but ran out of time. I thought there was a law that you couldn’t have anything hanging from the rearview mirror of your car. Does anyone know? Guess I can check with the DMV or a police officer.

Even if there is no law on the books, I think something swaying back and forth from the rearview mirror could be a distraction. At the very least, it can obstruct one’s vision. And yet we all know people who hang CDs, rosary beads, air fresheners, graduation tassels, garters and other assorted tchotchkes (have wanted to throw that word into a column for several weeks now!) from the rearview mirror of their vehicles.

The placard for handicapped parking is to be placed on the rearview mirror while the vehicle is parked. It is not supposed to stay on the mirror while the vehicle is in motion, but I bet you see one or two today while you are out driving around town.

The mirror thing isn’t as bad as what people actually do while driving. Ever see someone applying mascara or lipstick while driving? Of course you have. Ever see someone looking in the mirror while engaged in an excavation of their nose? Wish I had a dime for every time I’ve witnessed that!

People eat and drink (hopefully legal beverages) while driving. They also read newspapers, magazines and books. As a former English teacher, I appreciate that they are reading, but I would suggest they not do so while driving.

Would you believe people actually shave while driving? Thus far, I have only seen someone use a battery-powered razor, but I wouldn’t be shocked if someday I see someone all lathered up and using a Gillette Fusion.

How can it not be a distraction to have a dog on your lap while driving? I have seen people struggle to navigate a turn because Fifi or Sparky is seated on them. If for some reason the air bag were deployed, someone would be minus one family pet.

Some drivers are capable of some pretty remarkable multitasking, but thus far I have yet to see anyone drinking coffee, talking on the phone, reading the sports page, AND shaving their dog all at the same time!

And then there are some unmentionables that can cause distracted driving, but I will just leave it at that. It certainly would be interesting (and highly disturbing), however, to hear what others have witnessed.

I realize I have only explored the tip of the iceberg when it comes to distracted driving. You no doubt have your own examples to share. I just hope no one calls me out for using my laptop to write this week’s column. What can I say? It’s a long, boring drive between here and St. Louis.

Just kidding! I don’t even own a laptop. I still use a pen and paper.

Ron Worman is a Teutopolis resident. Email comments to editor@effinghamdailynews.com


Text Only
Local News
  • $500K coming to sports complex

    In a 3-2 vote Tuesday, Effingham City Council narrowly approved $500,000 in hotel/motel tax revenue to help fund the construction of the Richard E. Workman Sports and Wellness Center during a meeting in which the council approved funds for other entities as well.

    August 20, 2014

  • Shimkus not taking anything for granted despite past electoral success

    U.S. Rep. John Shimkus  hasn't had a serious election challenge in more than a decade. But the longtime congressman said he's not taking anything for granted, even though his sprawling district appears tailor-made for continued Republican representation.

    August 19, 2014

  • Power out in Effingham subdivision; cause not yet known

    A small number of Ameren electric customers on the west side of Effingham were out of power this morning.

    August 19, 2014

  • Unit 40 presents $57k deficit Thanks to a series of personnel moves, Unit 40 officials have estimated a $57,136 deficit for the school year — much less than the $834,000 deficit the previous year. With this year’s expected revenue at $28,695,717 and expenditures coming in at $28,

    August 19, 2014

  • 8-16 bank robber 2.jpg Police seek suspect after Marshall bank robbery

    Police from several agencies were seeking a man suspected of robbing a bank in Marshall Friday morning.

    August 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • Church Briefs

    Centenary UMCCentenary United Methodist Church, Effingham, will host the following activities: • Saturday, Aug. 16: Pick It Up Effingham at Menards, 8 a.m.• Sunday, Aug. 17: Connection Time, 10 a.m.; Glenwood Worship, 10:30 a.m.; Lavender Ridge Worsh

    August 15, 2014

  • tony- rural health pic 'A more urban nation' The demographic of those in need of health care in rural areas of the heartland are changing. While those native to the Midwest are moving to the south, east and west coast for better climate and employment, the number of immigrants and elderly is on

    August 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Making preschool possible

    A quarter of children starting kindergarten in Effingham have no preschool experience. Studies say this lack of prior school experience is a disadvantage, but a group of community members intend to change that.

    August 14, 2014

  • Thankyou Dear T-town residents,To all of you who were in any way responsible for the perfect roll-out of our Terquasquicentennial, I want to say a public thank you. I know I speak for many.The planning for such an event must have consumed your lives for the p

    August 14, 2014

  • State board recommends license suspension for local lawyer

    August 13, 2014

AP Video

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.