By May 31, 2017

Why Drivers Should Keep Their Pants On

By Chris Prickett — Most of us will live to see self-driving cars become commonplace. Ironically, some of us won’t live to see this because a car will kill us. I think we may be witnessing a fatal crossroads in the evolution of driving versus technology. You can’t outsmart stupid.

Operating a motor vehicle used to require much more attention to detail. Before the introduction of cruise control, onboard navigation, lane-assist and back-up cameras, driving was a serious undertaking and accidents were much less forgiving. Back in the day, there were no crumple-zones or airbags. Defensive driving was taken seriously because the stakes were much higher.

Nowadays (I feel so old when I type that word!), driving is just one part of several multitasks a person does when operating a car. Texting, phone calls, shuffling through podcasts, eating, makeup application, even clothes changing… it’s a car, not your master bathroom!

If we were still driving the vehicles of yesteryear (the steel dashboard/non-collapsing steering column/no-seatbelt deathtraps from my childhood), would texting and other distractions be so commonplace? Probably.

When I was in high school, back in the Stone Age, we had something called driver’s ed. (We also had shop, gym, and home ec, but that’s another column.) There was a ghastly horrific movie called “Flesh, Metal, & Glass,” and viewing was mandatory. Kids threw up, cried, and some didn’t want to get behind the wheel at all after seeing it. Scaring kids into compliance used to be a primary tool of parenting. Of course, today, I see much worse just scrolling through my Facebook feed, but our modern institutions of learning would never allow such film to air.

So until Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg can save us from ourselves, please keep ’em at 10 and 2, lock your phone in your trunk, finish dessert before you hit the road and, for my sake, keep your pants on!

Related: What’s Behind Rising Arizona Traffic Deaths

Over the Prickett Fence is a column in In&Out Magazine.

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