An awkward moment is normally the worst thing that happens if you zone out for a second or two.
We’ve all done it. Been introduced, and instantly forgotten whether it’s Matt, Mark or Mike we met, been ‘listening’ to a friend’s tall tale of a travel adventure, but planning what to cook for tea, or even slyly answered a text or two when that staff meeting strayed into particularly dry territory.
And who can blame us? Our world begets distraction. Texts, Email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, WhattsApp, Messenger... even those beeping sounds Google Maps makes when it reroutes that let you know you’re hopelessly lost.
It’s a constant random input of information. Our brains are hooked on the unpredictability. You hear a beep, and you don’t know always whether it’s to say your grandma’s in hospital, there’s an emergency at work, or your best friend has taken a cute picture of a dog. It’s hard not to look.
But never have the stakes been so high.
Less than two hundred years ago, no one travelled faster than about 48 kilometres per hour, the maximum galloping speed of most horses. In a pedestrian world, about the worst that can happen if you’re distracted is that you bump into someone. Yes, carriages had accidents, but they were confined to the speed of a horse. Cars didn’t become common in Australia until after World War II.
In January this year 19.2 million motor vehicles were registered in Australia.
In 2016, two in three of us drove to work.
For most people alive in Australia today, car travel has always been the norm. And maybe we’ve begun to take it for granted?
As driving has become a mundane part of our daily routine, we’ve forgotten how extraordinarily fast we’re going. Police report worrying numbers of drivers using their phones while driving, and it’s causing fatalities. If you look at your phone, you take your eyes off the road. A few seconds’ distraction isn’t going to cause an awkward moment, it could kill a person.
For everyone’s sake, we need to sharpen up and take concentration seriously in the driver’s seat.
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