My kids cured my texting while driving habit
If you really are serious about breaking the very dangerous habit of texting while driving or checking your e-mails when that cell phone gives off that irresistible buzz, put a bounty on your head. That's how I cured myself of the temptation to look at my Blackberry when it rattles in my cupholder, inviting me to check out this hilarious lawyer joke or that plea from the African prince to hide his millions for him.
It hit me one day that my kids may be little, but I have future drivers in the car and I need to set an example. So I gave my kids permission to call me on it, and if anyone catches me sending a text or responding to an e-mail while the car is in motion, they get $5. I've only had to pay it once. With 5 bucks in hand, my son is worse (or better, depending on your point of view). He's now ruthlessly pouncing if I so much as glance at that buzzing BlackBerry.
I am allowed to check it at red lights and send a text if I am stopped or if I pull over. But if the car is moving my Text Patrol is on duty. Sometimes, my red light queries turn up a text or an e-mail I want to respond to, so I hand the phone to my 11 year old and say something like "text Daddy that we'll be home in 10 minutes, does he need me to pick up anything?"
That's how I got my first $5 ticket. The dear boy was being my secretary and updating our Whoa, Momma! Twitter feed for me when I had taken them to check out the new Animation exhibit at MOSI. This is my work, so I didn't want my Twitter feed to sound like an 11 year old had written it, so I insisted on reading it before he hit the Update button. That's when the sucker nailed me. At first I protested, but he was right. I could have waited until the next red light or pulled over before doing an admittedly silly thing like a Twitter update. How idiotic would I have felt if I'd gotten into an accident over Twitter? I paid.
I think I have converted the kids and they now pester their aunts or other drivers not to look at their phones when driving. And they love to recount the tale of the most unlucky teen ever, the Tampa girl who was a perfect storm of bad behaviors. She skipped class at Freedom High to make a Taco Bell run. She was texting her boyfriend about a burrito order when she ran into a car that was stopped at a light. And not just any car, a police car! I encourage you to tell this story to your kids. It's hilarious and fortunate that she wasn't killed and if nothing else, she lives on in infamy in our car as an object lesson of what not to do.
-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne