Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Smiley Face Button for New Drivers

  My daughter has earned her driver's permit which means we must spend every waking moment driving the streets of town together.  She fully understands that any use of her phone while driving will result in loss of driving privileges and long lectures from both parents.  Our real concern is not texting and driving but is more a fear of gregarious driving.  My child believes it is important to wave at everyone she knows and make sure that she is seen behind the wheel of the car.  This is a highly coveted place of honor only held by those who have already had their 14th birthday and passed the State Police Driver's test, so it's important to let the world see you.

  Just last weekend, as we turned off the highway onto a side street, we passed an SUV full of her friends.  She immediately began waving with uncontrollable excitement.  As her hand stretched to the left, the car veered to the right and we were headed straight for the ditch.  I grabbed the wheel and snatched her attention as she guided us back onto the asphalt path.  After I explained why you must keep your eyes on the road and your hands out of other people's vehicles, she sat there for a second taking it all in.  "You know.... Cars need a smiley button on the dash," she said.  Intrigued with this line of thinking, I had to ask why.  She explained that it would be handy to have a button to push that would take over driving the car when you need to divert your attention for greetings, salutations, and down the road hellos.

  I thought about this for a bit and realized it was not a bad idea.  In fact, there should be a button next to it with a picture of a screaming, panicked passenger that will take over operation of the car when the driver fails to push the smiley face button when executing a perfect homecoming queen wave out the driver's window.  An additional button could be placed in the back seat for those who believe the entire driving process has been compromised and they can then take over operation of the vehicle.  It didn't take long to figure out that the more buttons we added, the less any of us needed to be driving.    While a smiley button could be a handy optional feature, "Hands on the Wheel" is a much better decision.

  So for now, phones are placed in the back seat, to include mine, so that I can pay close attention to her paying close attention.  I figure the world is much safer this way.  Upon safe arrival to any destination, she can celebrate it with all the smiley face emoticons she wants, because like all kids her age, her first stop is to grab that phone and connect with the world she just drove past and was unable to communicate with.  Such is the sacrifice for the privilege of sitting behind the wheel. 

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