Recently a law went into effect in Tennessee that requires drivers to keep their hands on the wheel at all times, since the state is the highest in the country when it comes to distracted driving deaths, one of those things where you really don’t want to be ranked number one although I guess statistically someone has to be. It’s mainly aimed at people using their phones—any kind of hands-free communication is still legal, although I’m one of those people who can’t talk without using my hands, so if you ride with me while I’m ever in the driver’s seat please excuse my silence—but applies to anything. I didn’t even think about the implications until one morning when I was in the elevator and a woman next to me was talking on her phone and said, “Well, you’d better not be talking on your phone while you’re driving anyway.” She got quiet for a minute then said, “What do you mean I can’t drink my drink?” Yes, it applies to eating and drinking too, which reminds me of a joke Paul Reiser made about how the only time you enjoy sitting in traffic is when you’re trying to eat something, but that’s another story.
And I realized that rule must apply to bus drivers too, which might be a little bit of a problem for a bus driver who used to be on my route. Every day she’d stop at a certain fast food place on the route and get a cup of water. I understand bus drivers need breaks just like everybody else and at least she didn’t linger but got her water and came right back out, but from her conversations with riders I learned that it was always her first run of the day. She was also always running late. She blamed this on the driver before her and yet whenever there was a different driver on the route, which happened at least once a week, they’d be on time. Once she was so far behind schedule that when she stopped at the fast food place someone in the back yelled, “Can you please wait to get water?”
She ignored this request and spent an unusually long time in the fast food place.
It may be purely a coincidence—bus drivers change routes all the time—but I stopped seeing her on my route not long after that.
Anyway I wonder how bus drivers will cope with having to keep their hands on the wheel while driving. I have an idea, but it involves a really long straw.
She was a pusher, THAT’S why she was always stopping at the same place. No better place to hide 100 kilos’s of coke than under a great big bus drivers hat. And she didn’t get fired from her bus job, she just moved up in the drug cartel for being so innovative.
Who says crime doesn’t pay?
There’s a possibility I never considered. She was stopping for water and dealing coke. That would be a pretty good gig for a bus driver since the job takes them all around the city and at regular times. Well, semi-regular times anyway.
I guess that’s why they’re pushing self driving cars, so that they can enjoy a coffee and talk on the phone on the way to work. What a waste of tax payers money. I can think of loads more imporatant automotive technologies at the moment that would be better funded!
A really long straw (reuseable of course!) would be peanuts, and the rest of the billions could go for electricity infrastructure and better batteries or fuel cells….
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I always think self-driving cars would make it easier to have coffee or even eat something and talk on the phone on the way to work but then I think how smart phones have made it so some people are expected to be working all the time and I worry self-driving cars are going to make that even worse. The commute, for some of us at least, is a chance to get away from work, but self-driving cars mean we’ll be expected to work on our way to and from the office.
You’re a blogging wizard, Chris. Sometimes I enjoy sitting in traffic by reading your posts. Other times, I practice the ukulele. I guess I’ll have to stop if Massachusetts enacts a similar law.
It would be a terrible thing if Massachusetts required you to stop practicing the ukulele. A little music on your way to and from work has to make the drive a more enjoyable experience, and that gets passed on to everyone.
Not sure I’d want to look at any other passing traffic when I’m in Tennessee. Think about all the people that sneeze and can’t wipe their noses. On second thought, don’t think about it.
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One of the disadvantages of riding the bus is it puts me above most traffic so I can look down at people in their cars. Fortunately I haven’t seen anything I wish I hadn’t, but I don’t stare, and now that you mention people who sneeze and wipe their noses I’m glad I don’t.
And here’s a fun trick: next time you’re driving and sneeze turn on the windshield wipers. It’ll amuse your passengers.
I used to joke all the time that before smart phones stoplights always lasted too long, and since smart phones the light always turns green too soon. How does one now take a bite, a gulp, check the news, respond to texts, AND peruse social media notifications when the world is so quickly commanding “GO!”???
The world really needs to demand we slow down once in a while. Hey, it’s spinning at about a thousand miles an hour, isn’t that fast enough? Although if you think stoplights change too soon when you’re driving think about how quickly they change when you’re a pedestrian. Believe me it’s even harder to take a bite, a swallow of a beverage, check the news, answer texts, and read emails while trying to get across the street before cars start moving your way.
I would have a really hard time with this law. I get tired on long drives and eating and drinking keeps my head in the game even if it keeps one hand off the wheel.
PS: At least the nose pickers will have to wait until they are out of view which makes looking around stoplights more enjoyable.
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Hopefully there’s an exception for long drives. And it’s funny you mention nose pickers. Just this morning I was stopped at a stoplight and there was a woman behind me who I could see in the rearview mirror. She wasn’t picking her nose but she looked like she was chewing about ten sticks of gum. So I guess that’s one way around the new law.