Wireless Etiquette Can Save Your Life!

Wireless etiquette is no joke!  It's not about simple niceties; it's truly about personal safety, particularly when it comes to driving.  You might be asking yourself what etiquette has to do with safety?  I'm not talking about speaking loudly on the phone in a quiet public place, or generally having inappropriate conversations in inappropriate places; that's just plain rude!  I'm talking about using your wireless phone during times that increase the physical danger to yourself or those around you; namely talking without a headset and texting while driving.

Most states in the U.S. have now mandated that people must use a hands free device when talking on the phone while driving.  That makes a lot of sense to me, and I don't think most people these days resist this reality.  I personally started using a hands free device many years before it was law, not because I was concerned about safety, but rather because I find it irritating to hold a Texting While Driving Can Kill Youphone to my ear, particularly when trying to do things like driving!

Unlike those old household phones that were so enormous that holding them between your ear and shoulder were relatively painless, today's smartphones are simply too difficult, if not impossible to hold due to their shape.  It gives me a headache to try to hold a phone to my ear while turning corners, checking blind spots, etc.  I'd rather have both hands free, even if I often end up with one arm on the arm rest.  But seriously, at least that way, in an emergency, I have both hands fully free and available for quick maneuvers.  The idea of holding a phone next to my ear seems ludicrous these days; I actually feel completely put out when I don't have my bluetooth headset with me.

I'm actually astonished when I still see people driving with a phone to their ear; it seems so old school, and wholly irresponsible!  Some people argue that simply talking on the phone, even with a hands free headset, is distracting and dangerous.  My personal opinion is that talking to someone who's in the car next to me can be even more distracting, because there's a tendency to want to look at them while conversing.  Although, arguably, they are a potential second set of eyes on the road to help avoid an accident, and can see the driving conditions, and allow for the conversation to flow accordingly, unlike someone on the phone.  Admittedly, I'm not willing to give up the luxury, and efficient use of commuting time, of talking on the phone.  That said, staying hands free is certainly critical in my opinion, and I'm happy that it has now become law.

Texting & Driving - Don't Do It!

These days, even more critical than talking while driving, is the topic of text messaging while driving.  Yes, when making a voice call you'll have to navigate your phone to either find the saved contact or enter the phone number of the person you're trying to call, or even find that voice recognition button to make a voice call.  You're typically talking about a very brief amount of time that can often be accomplished without even looking, or quickly before leaving on your drive or while at a light.  And while that's even arguably dangerous, when it comes to people actually composing text messages, or commenting on Facebook while driving, there have been many reported accidents that have proven this is more than just bad wireless etiquette, but is extremely dangerous, and outright negligent.

Whether you're touch typing, using Swype, Swiftkey, or any type of keyboard input method, typing while driving is absurdly dangerous.  For those of us who took defensive driving courses, do you remember the constant scanning of the road, checking your rear view mirror, noting escape routes when boxed in on the highway, and other driving safety techniques we were taught?  The moment we start trying to type, even the most simple and quick notes, all of that goes out the window!  Some people will feverishly argue that they're pros, and they never get distracted, but that's just not humanly possible.  At the very least, it means one hand on the wheel with some degree of attention (and eyes!) taken off of the road.  Please, let's apply some of these basic wireless etiquette safety practices.  Without changing our habits, it's only a matter of time before we hurt or kill someone, or someone we love gets hurt or dies in a accident, because someone was texting while driving!  Personally, I worry most about my kids getting to driving age, and how I'm going to teach them to not use their phone while driving, and hope that they don't get injured by someone else who's doing so.

Side Note:

If holding your phone and texting while driving are becoming unlawful wireless etiquette, what about drinking a coffee, eating, or putting on makeup (or both!)?  I'm always amazed when I see people putting on makeup while driving.  Forget about discussing how they can possibly be seeing the road while peering at themselves in the mirror, it makes me anxious to know that the slightest jerk of the car and they could pierce their eye out with the eye liner pencil or mascara brush; yikes!

[Obvious] Conclusions!

So on the topic of wireless etiquette, the general conclusion and advice here is to not talk without a hands free device or text while in a situation where your attention should be on something else, whether it's driving a car, bus, flying a plane, cycling, etc.  Better to get to where you're going in one piece.  I'm sure the person on the other end of the conversation or message will appreciate having you around.

Lastly, we need our friends, family, bosses, and co-workers to change their expectations around response time.  We feel so obligated to always be available, that it can sometimes be hard to delay responding.  The reality is that if something is urgent, they should call; otherwise, people shouldn't get anxious or upset if we don't respond to their text messages until we're done driving.  Even at lights, we shouldn't be distracted trying to respond to messages.  In otherwise, a fundamental shift in EVERYONE's general attitude and mindset around communication needs to change!

Wireless Etiquette

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