As a “millennial” I am constantly being reminded of my generation’s tendency to expect instant gratification, our reliance on technology, and our constant connection to the world around us. For myself and most of my friends technology is seamlessly integrated throughout our lives, and managing cellphone use at school, work, or while driving can feel counter-intuitive. I wish to create some discussion around this concept in regards to 20-somethings: Do you need to put your phone in the trunk of your vehicle in order to resist texting and driving? Who is it that contacts you via cellphone? How do your social media notifications work? How much and what kind of driving are you regularly doing?
Just last week, my sister sent me multiple texts during her 15 min break at work, and I just happened to be driving. She’s living in Ottawa for University, and it is quite difficult to resist dropping everything when my phone lights up with her name. I had to decide on the spot: park somewhere and talk to her during her only free time that day or continue on my drive and reply to her later. In this situation, I chose to message her later. But it wasn’t easy: my constant connections allow me to know that she is stressed about her class schedule and is likely seeking my advice. Having to delay my response until later is both tough on my patience and my memory. Part of my strategy is the method of notifications I use: my phone is usually on silent, and only gets lit up with text messages or phone calls- everything else I check manually. I know this isn’t true for many millennials, but perhaps it’s something that should be discussed when cellphone use and driving is in question. In addition, I have four rules that I remind myself of before driving- even when it’s just to the grocery store:
- Physically move it out of reach (in the glove box, in my purse or in the back seat) -my phone doesn’t belong beside me while I’m driving.
- Remind myself that cellphone use while driving is not worth causing confusion to other drivers, risking anyone’s safety, the cost of an accident, getting a ticket, or increased insurance premiums.
- Manage my time so that driving time is entirely available to concentrate on driving.
- I turn on the volume while driving so that I know about anyone trying to contact me -for me personally this decreases my anxiety of simply just ‘not knowing’ if anyone is trying. If I ever were to receive multiple alerts indicating something may be urgent, I can make the choice to park somewhere to deal with it, or remain unavailable.
In theory it would be great if everyone just decided attentive driving was the highest priority while on the road. Yet in practice we know life is busy and complex, and littered with deadlines, pending conversations and 1 minute tasks that could be completed at a stop light. Even though I may not be ready to embrace “mono-tasking” culture or revert to life before cellphones, it doesn’t mean I can’t learn to manage my cell phone use and be an attentive driver. I believe this to be true for my whole generation as well. But I’m just one millennial! So please comment below with your own strategies for attentive driving!