Car Phones.

A recent reorganization at work has resulted in my belonging to a bigger team. Once the lone guy in Upstate New York, I now have colleagues in the Rochester area, which is a little over two hours from the house. I made the drive today to meet these folks; it was a productive day today and I’m very happy to be part of this larger group. Face-to-face time is always a good thing.

Since the majority of my work travel has been by air of late, I hadn’t done much in the way of commuting in the Jeep. The drive along the New York State Thruway west of the Mohawk Valley can sometimes be described as mind-numbing, especially when one has political commentary droning on and on from the radio. I decided to wise up, turn off the radio and take notice of my surroundings.

The pace of traffic along Interstate 90 in these parts slows down considerably west of us. I don’t like cranking the Jeep up over 70 for too long as the tires aren’t really designed for interstate driving and more importantly, the “ECO ON” indicator turns off and my gas mileage plummets. The speed limit is 65 so I set the cruise at 69 because it’s a number that a lot of people enjoy. West of here traffic during the day seemed to be moving around 70-72 MPH today. I enjoyed looking at the other people driving on the road. There were quite a few people driving much faster and most of them had either out-of-state plates (namely Massachusetts or New Jersey) or their license plate frame/bracket indicated that they were from the downstate area. Traffic on the Thruway downstate moves much faster down there because those folks are always in a hurry.

The one thing that I really took notice of was the fact that hardly anyone was using their cell phone illegally. I didn’t see any illegal texting, talking or watching of video, that is, until I was on my way home and east of Syracuse. Once I was east of Syracuse the average speed picked up a bit and I spotted several more people talking on or using their phone in some way, even though the amount of traffic on the roadway itself seemed to be the same. Tell-tale signs of erratic weaving, unnecessary brake lights and misuse of the passing lane made it easy to spot those that decided that their phone was more important than the task at hand, that being driving the car. I couldn’t pin an average age to the activity, folks seemed to be all over the birthday spectrum but my completely unscientific observations did show that women were more apt to be using the phone than men.

I try really hard to not use my phone when I’m driving. I’ve been known to talk to my phone to launch music or dictate a text message to Earl or Jamie or to send a Tweet, but if Siri goes brain dead during one of these activities I will just give up on the endeavor and stay focused on driving. Most of the time. I wish it was 100% of the time but it would be a lie if I said I was picture perfect in this department.

I’m always striving for improvement. I wish others would follow that lead.

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