I got into a fender bender last night. Luckily no one was hurt, and as for the damage to my car (see above), well, that’s what insurance is for. In the aftermath, though, I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking on how easily I let myself get distracted while driving, not just yesterday but in general…and fortuitously, this afternoon I came across my old iPod shuffle.
If you’re wondering how I went from distracted driving to iPod shuffle, it’s not that crazy a leap. I usually use my Droid for music in my car, either using the built-in music player or Pandora. But if I want to change the music, or figure out why Pandora stopped playing, it’s way too easy to take my eyes off the road for a second…and a second is all it takes for everything to go boom.
Enter the iPod shuffle. For starters, it’s small and tough. It can withstand sitting in a car for days, in hot and cold temps, with no problem. And if something spills, squashes or otherwise attacks it, I have faith in “shuffy” to survive. Most importantly, it has buttons. I can find the forward/back and volume keys without looking. If a song I hate comes on, it doesn’t require me to look away to change the track. It doesn’t eliminate all distractions, but it keeps me from having to press the power button, unlock the screen, navigate to Pandora/music player, and THEN access what I need to. I didn’t think about that until last night, but now that I’ve experienced it I can’t get it out of my head. That’s a lot of steps, and a lot of seconds where my eyes are not going to be 100% on the road.
To be honest, the convenience of carrying music on my phone won me over back when I had an iPhone, and I stopped using my shuffle then. At the same time, since my phone was “in-use” and available, I found myself giving in more and more to the temptation of “oh, I’ll see what that buzz was”, or “oh, I’m stopped, let me check Twitter.” I knew it was bad, I knew it was letting me get more and more distracted, and I fell into some really bad habits. My plan now is to use the shuffle for music in my car, and keep my phone in a bag or pocket, far away from my easily distracted attention span.
This time I was really lucky. The other car had no damage, everyone walked away unscathed, and my car is drivable until the parts arrive for the repairs. This was a costly mistake, but not nearly as costly as it could have been. It’s a scary reminder of how much can happen in a few seconds. Obviously, you may not need to bust out a separate music player or contemplate putting your phone in the glove compartment to hide distractions. But we’ve all driven and texted, or checked email, etc. Please be careful, and think about your distraction triggers. Find ways to keep from taking your eyes off the road, because it’s just not worth the risk. We like our readers safe and in one piece here at Gear Diary!