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July 1, 2010 / Brett Cohrs

On the Benefits of No Texting While Driving…

I just reprinted this article to my new blog: Nonprofit Insurance Blog

Today, the Georgia ban on texting while driving went into effect.

As an insurance agent, I appreciate this new law. As a person, I would be lying if I said I was never guilty.  On my way to work this morning, I had to battle my impulses to pick up my phone and check my Twitter feed or my email. Apparently, it’s just involuntary at this point: Place Blackberry in passenger seat. 1 min 33 seconds later, pick up and check Blackberry.  It’s mostly at red lights, but still.

I just had to turn the thing off.

What started after that was a reflection on the benefits of this ban.  Sure, it’s well documented  that texting or even talking on the cell phone while driving increases the risk of an accident exponentially . If we were all honest with ourselves, we’ve each had at least one near miss requiring deep breaths and throwing our device in the back seat with an oath to quit.

Safety is paramount, but a few other collateral positives can come from this.

Reconnect (assuming there’s a person in the car with you): It’s bad enough when you’re having lunch or dinner with someone who can’t set the phone aside, but when you’re a passenger in a car and the driver is constantly checking the handheld, it’s infuriating.  Put the thing up, have a conversation. If you’re driving your babies or toddlers around, sing a song with them, point out interesting things. Connect.

Learn: As a parent of a 3 year old daughter and 1 ½ year old twin boys,  I need help. Someone recently handed me a cassette series (yes, cassette) on parenting. It’s great stuff and I’ve noticed that during a red light Twitter check, I’ve miss out on parts of the teaching.  Putting the phone aside this morning, I was able to focus on the speaker.

What’s your current occupation? What are some things you’re interested in? Download some good educational material or get a book on CD. Take some time to get smart.

Focus: I’m not great at this, but sometimes turning off everything during a drive, envisioning and thinking about the day ahead or a proposal or a meeting can put me in the right mindset. A few minutes of uninterrupted focus prior to an important presentation can make a huge difference. Instead of reading an email you can’t respond to, focus on the important events of the day.

Listen: This is a strange one and probably more confessive than helpful. I hardly listen to music anymore. I lived and died by the bands I loved up until a few years ago when some kind of middle age virus took over and caused me to listen to sports and political talk.  Sometimes, it’s been a great exercise to put on an old favorite, or listen to something I’ve never heard before and really hear it.

Meditation: This might not be your bag, but if you give any credence to prayer, then try no phones, no music, no nothing—just quiet time. It’s a perfect time of no interruptions. I recommend praying with your eyes open in these situations.

If you live in a state where you have been banned from texting, then best of luck to you in developing new habits! Be thankful that you will be less of a menace on the roads and that your insurance premiums might have a better chance of staying lower!

Question: Can you think of any other benefits of putting your phone in the glove compartment?

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