Driving while watching TV

I am a bad driver. Oh, don’t feel sorry for me. I mean, it’s not
like I set out to be a bad driver, it’s just what I am.
And it’s not really that I am dangerous
– if you see me on the street in my sort-of-big truck, though,
you might want to get out of the way – or at the very least pull
over and review your insurance documents before proceeding.
I am a bad driver. Oh, don’t feel sorry for me. I mean, it’s not like I set out to be a bad driver, it’s just what I am.

And it’s not really that I am dangerous – if you see me on the street in my sort-of-big truck, though, you might want to get out of the way – or at the very least pull over and review your insurance documents before proceeding.

And truthfully, I wasn’t always a bad driver – well, I wasn’t ever a GOOD driver, but I didn’t always stink. But once you have a kid in the car, there’s so much else going on.

And the minute Junior became mobile – i.e., figured out how to get out of his car seat whenever he wanted – driving became an adventure, filled with fascinating questions: Would we make it to the store without having to pull over and chase a giggling toddler around the backseat? Would the power windows break because Junior was playing with the buttons? Would Mommy ever regain her sanity and be able to take a peaceful drive to Nob Hill again?

After a while, of course, thanks to duct tape and numerous timeouts, Junior’s game of “Let’s torture Mommy while she’s driving” ended. And that’s when he discovered the radio.

In a normal, childfree car, the radio is used for listening. You can listen to music, to talk shows, even to sermons (not to be confused with some talk shows). But add a child to that mix and chaos reigns.

And it’s not like the car manufacturers make it easy for parents. For example, in my truck there is a control for the radio IN THE BACKSEAT.

I would like to know what idiot thought up that device. You see, from the backseat, a person – that would be my child – can drive the driver nuts. Because that person can change anything about the radio – adjust the volume to ear-shattering levels, change from AM to FM to CD to tape and back again.

Of course, the driver – that would be me – can lock the radio-crazed child out of the controls.

But heck, it’s some two-fingered combination that I can never remember. And because I’m not the greatest driver on earth, I’m fairly positive that nobody on the road wants me to pull the manual out of the glove box and quickly refresh my memory on how to lock Junior out of the radio controls.

Which is why I am so disturbed about TVs in cars.

Look, as an incompetent driver, I don’t need another driver on the road to be distracted. It’s bad enough when people are driving from lane to lane doing stupid things, like talking on the phone, putting on makeup or trying to figure out how to make their kid stop fiddling with the radio.

But a TV? Please. Can’t you go one hour without watching television? I can understand having a TV in the backseat. Look, I’d love one. Then Junior can sit on long trips and watch DVDs and forget all about playing with the darned radio.

But the trend now is to put a TV in all the seats and the front dashboard – so the driver can watch, too. Is it just me or is this just about the dumbest thing ever? I mean, you are DRIVING. Trust me when I say this requires concentration and skill. You’re maneuvering a large device on a road – you don’t need the distraction of a TV.

And if you’re so attached to the tube that you absolutely cannot miss your favorite show just because you are out on the road, may I suggest TIVO? Not in your car, of course – but in your house, the place where you should be watching TV.

And I don’t care that you are a fantastic driver or that your boss says you excel at multi-tasking. At one time, I thought I was a good driver too. Then I realized that most passengers in my car were so scared the only things they could say when I drove were, “AUGH!” and “thank goodness, we survived.”

So I need all of you people with TVs in the dash to listen up. I stink at driving. I depend on you to drive better than I do – and that’s not asking a whole lot, believe me. I’m doing my part. I disabled the radio controls in the backseat. But I need you stop watching TV while driving.

It’s just stupid.

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