From Where I Sit – Now That Makes Me Mad

For years I’ve used this space and elsewhere to gush about the joys and benefits of reading. I’ve mentioned favourite writers like Julia Cameron, Joan Barfoot, Carol Shields, and others. I’ve recommended titles of books both fiction and non-fiction that have impacted me and may interest you. I’ve suggested free and affordable ways to get around the high cost of new releases. I may even have made a pest of myself.

I’ve talked about places to read: in the bathroom, in bed, at the dinner table, on vacation, outside, inside, pretty well anywhere you’d like. The one thing I never suggested was reading while driving. Cripes. Is this not a no-brainer?

Oh, sure I’ve glanced at a city address on a scrap of paper clutched in my hand that is firmly attached to the steering wheel. But I have never read a novel or a newspaper. The next time You’re out doing some highway driving check to see what the oncoming driver is holding and say a prayer.

A recent study done over 18 months with video cameras mounted in semi-trailer tractor truck cabs showed that texting while driving is 23 times more likely to result in a crash. A driver’s eyes can be off the road for as long as five seconds?or the time it takes to drive the length of a football field.

Can you see any self-respecting reader being content with five seconds of reading? Hell no. So for the record, reading while driving is dumb and that makes me mad.

These days there’s a lot of talk in Alberta about banning cellphones while driving and the pros and cons of such legislation. The Transportation Minister contends that cellphone usage isn’t the only hazard out there and a distracted driver law is more far-reaching. After what I saw in Edmonton last week I’m inclined to agree with him.

As the passenger, I looked over to my right during a red light and saw a young girl in the back seat with an animal. So what’s the big deal, You’re thinking: kid, obviously not driving, in the back seat with an animal? It took a few more red lights for us to figure out she was holding, caressing, and kissing a white rat! If I was the driver I would have bailed miles before and still be shrieking, never mind driving down one of Edmonton’s busiest freeways. But hey, maybe her mother has nerves of steel. We’ve all seen dogs in drivers? laps and crawling around their necks.

This is incredibly dumb for another reason. This winter we will no doubt be stocking up on face masks to protect ourselves from the spread of H1N1 from other people?you know, creatures of our own species. What in God’s name can you get from kissing your pet rat/cat/dog/gerbil/you name it? Now that makes me mad, from where I sit.