No matter how often the trained professional experts at the American Psychological Association tell us that the human brain was not designed for heavy-duty multitasking, we keep stockpiling toys that tempt our drivers to distraction, and sometimes death.
Just in time for the holidays, Neal Boudette of The New York Times reminds us that American technological exceptionalism has brought us the biggest spike in traffic fatalities in half a century, and fingers app addiction as the likely culprit.
The teenagers, little kids, and even the babies in the back seat all have their own screens, relieving drivers from having to distract them with 20th-century games like “count all the blue cars.” That cuts down on annoying questions from the peanut gallery, such as “Are we there yet?” freeing up moms and dads for Bluetooth, Snapchat and Pokemon Go.
Aided by the North Star, 16th-century explorer Ponce de Leon made his way from A Land Without Indoor Plumbing to La Florida. Today, he probably couldn’t find his own Waze to the grocery store.
Any traffic cop can tell you that the techno-chickens have come home to roost. In 2017, traffic fatalities dropped slightly, to 37,133, from the comparable period of 2016 (37,806), according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
The keepers of the grisly statistics are alarmed, as well they should be. That’s a subject for long, thoughtful consideration on another day.
Right now, it’s time to for 2.29 million Floridians to load the car and head over the river and through the woods. The AAA is on the rooftops, shouting its seasonal plea.
You know how it goes, because you heard your mom say it every time you walked out the front door: Be patient. Limit distractions. Stay safe.