Want to get a handle on the distracted driving epidemic? Forget more laws and increased enforcement.
Just stop inventing new vehicle technology. Stop coming up with the latest and greatest gadget that will supposely revolutionize your very existence. Enough with all of this 24/7 information in the blink of an eye, on demand and immediate whenever you could ever possibly want it.
Want to stop distracted driving? Get rid of the distractions. Press rewind. Let's get back to a more wholesome and straightforward time, when drivers young and old climbed into a vehicle, settled in behind the steering wheel, turned the key in the ignition, put the vehicle into gear, and off they went.
In other words, make people drive classic cars. And not just a casual cruise around town to take a trip down memory lane or to get a feel for what mom and dad and grandma and grandpa mean when they reminisce about the good old days. Drive classic cars. Every day. It's the bold action that must be taken.
Our youngest son is heading out the door. Maybe he's heading to class during his first semester of college. Maybe he's going to hang out with friends. Maybe he's going to work. It doesn't matter. He heads toward the door, his mom and I say goodbye, have fun, be safe and make good choices, he bids us farewell, and out the door he does.
He's gone, right? Strolls across the yard, gets into the truck, drives up the hill, stops at the stop sign, and he’s off.
Nope, not quite yet. It's like there's two good-byes when he leaves. There's the good-bye at the door, then there's the wave through the living room window when, a few minutes after exiting the house, he's finally ready to actually drive off...after he's situated his phone and found his favorite music playlist to blast at an eardrum-rattling volume. After he's Snapped this person, and Insta'd that person.
Was there a time decades ago when no one had any stuff? Nothing to carry in their hands and stuff into their pockets as they headed to their vehicle to go somewhere? Was everyone empty-handed?
We took my parents’ 1966 Mustang out of storage recently to run her for a few weeks. What fun. And what a culture shock.
I hadn't driven it this extensively for almost 30 years, and it showed. Or at least it showed the incomprehensible degree to which the times have changed.
The first time I climbed in, I glanced at the phone in my hand. Where do I put it? I certainly can't plug it in or place it on the charging station, which I do in my pickup. I tossed it on the passenger's seat. There was no satellite radio to tune in, either. Not even FM radio. Just AM. I didn't even bother to turn it on. The subsequent silence while driving - only the growl of the 289 engine under the ample hood providing the soundtrack - was a pleasant surprise. Climate control? There were a couple of lever-like controls, but I didn't bother. What good could they possibly do? It was hot and I knew none of those controls offered air-conditioning. I hand-cranked my window down, and to really get the air flowing, I reflexively looked for the button to roll down the passenger's-side window. A fruitless endeavor. I stretched my short, stout body as far across the passenger's seat as I could, and, not satisfied with my feeble reach radius, I climbed out - easier said than done; a ’66 Mustang's driver's seat is around six inches off the ground - and walked around to the other side, opened the door, and rolled the window down manually.
Back in the driver's seat, it was almost time to start driving. I just had to find a secure spot for my big thermal mug of hot coffee. Nary an option presented itself. A few seconds later, after heaving my body outside a second time, on the floor in the back seat I situated my camera bag and thermal lunch bag in a fashion that allowed me to wedge my mug between them and the back seat and, hopefully, not get jarred to the point during my drive that it would spill any piping hot, caffeinated deliciousness.
You don’t want to drink any beverages, hot or cold, permitted or illegal, while driving a classic car. With no power steering and no power brakes and riding oh-so-low, you need your mind and body fully engaged. It’s just you and the road, distraction-free, and it’s beautiful.