Editor's Notes 2.0: No Texting and Driving!
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Editor’s Notes 2.0: No Texting and Driving!

I have a confession to make: I have texted while driving. But 90 percent of the time, my cellphone sits on the passenger seat like a loyal lap dog and my hands are firmly planted on the wheel and my focus is on the road.

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Jason Stahl has 28 years of experience as an editor, and has been editor of BodyShop Business for the past 16 years. He currently is a gold pin member of the Collision Industry Conference. Jason, who hails from Cleveland, Ohio, earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from John Carroll University and started his career in journalism at a weekly newspaper, doing everything from delivering newspapers to selling advertising space to writing articles.

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I have a confession to make. I have:

1) texted while driving

2) taken a selfie while driving

3) taken a video while driving

3) taken a picture of a cool car passing by while driving

4) talked on the phone while driving

And no, I’m not a Millennial. Gen Xer, in fact.

Before I’m forced to say a couple Hail Marys and be absolved of my sins, let me also say I do not do these things on a daily basis. Ninety percent of the time, my cellphone sits on the passenger seat like a loyal lap dog and my hands are firmly planted on the wheel and my focus is on the road. Occasionally, I will glance at it to see if I got a text, but I will NOT return the text. Usually.

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I am the epitome of the defensive driver. Every vehicle or living thing I see, I expect to do the worst thing. That person waiting patiently at the light – they’re going to pull out in front of me. That kid running down the sidewalk – he’s going to veer to the left and dart in front of me. That chair in the back of that guy’s pickup truck in front of me is going to spill out and tumble toward me, hit my windshield, shatter into pieces and put a spear into my eye, pinning me to the back of my seat like that guy who had the rebar go through his skull and lived to tell about it. I see all of this in technicolor, too, and slow motion – the curse of a vivid imagination.

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OK, maybe this is all a bit extreme and reminds you of the movie, Final Destination. Maybe I’m a bit paranoid. But that’s how I drive. And why, when I arrive at work alive, for instance, after feeling like I just raced in the Coca-Cola 600, I do the sign of the cross. Will autonomous cars reduce vehicle deaths to zero? Maybe, but I’m sure some plague will pop up to wipe out at least the 33,000 or so people self-driving cars will save, maybe a lot more. One step forward, two steps back, hi-dee-ho.

The other day, I did an informal poll of people who were driving while texting or talking on their phones. Really, all I did was scrutinize about 20 drivers who passed by me as I sat at a light. And what did I discover? Only one was looking at his phone. Just one! That’s merely 5 percent of the drivers I observed, an encouraging stat, to be sure. But I know the percentage is a lot higher than that! I must have caught people on the right day. Statistics show that one in every four car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving.

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What made me think about all this was the story the other day about the girl who crashed into another car at 107 miles per hour while using Snapchat’s speed filter, which allows users to display the speed at which they’re moving while taking a photo. Snapchat is basically an app that lets you message friends and do a bunch of other things…things you shouldn’t be doing while driving. Frankly, I think the person the girl hit who is suing Snapchat has a strong case, but what do I know? I’m not a lawyer. But it was completely irresponsible for Snapchat to create such a thing, even with a disclaimer.

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The story definitely made me think twice about trying to record myself on the highway jamming out to a tune. I only did that once…once.

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