Cats and Dogs (Part 2)

It might help if you read Part 1 for the back story. The premise is that most near death experiences are not caused by road rage or any deliberate act. What I am attempting to do is list the reasons so we can engage in discussions on how to make to roads safer for all who use them.

Today’s topic is Distracted Drivers – gadgets.

Way back when in 1993, I decided to buy a driving machine. In fact, the ultimate driving machine. I had a good job and my wife and I were still young, carefree, and childless. I bought a BMW 325i and traded in my reliable, practical Honda Accord.

I bought the car from a small BMW dealer run by German family who recently came to the US. When buying the car, I remember my first mistake. I was sitting in the driver’s seat looking around the interior and I asked a seemingly simple question. I think this question nearly killed the owner of the dealership. The question was. “Where are the cupholders?”

After a brief pause, the owner looked at me with a mixture of emotions. He carefully chose his words and through his thick German accent he told me. “A car is for driving. If you get thirsty, stop and get a drink. When you are driving, you should be driving.” “Oh,” is the only thing I could think of to reply. Even today, look in a BMW. What few cupholders exist are clearly put there as an afterthought to the American market. In my current car, I have two cheesy cupholders. I imagine the fight in the design room being similar to asking a chef at a 4 star restaurant to make a child some Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. In contrast, I counted my the cupholders in my wife’s minivan. There are 17.

I tell this story because there is a lesson. When driving, drive. Along with the 17 cupholders in the van, there is a DVD player, an iPod hooked up to the radio, a cell phone charger, a small drawer with a few emergency snacks when running all over the place. When does she have time to drive?

I’m no better. While I don’t have beverages, I’ve been known to use my Blackberry while chatting on my other cell phone. I’ve done this in Manhattan traffic as well as on the New Jersey Turnpike. I’m not proud but I find that my only spare time is in the car. My commute is no longer the solace I described in my first post. It is an office on wheels. My actions must seem incongruous with my Share the Road license plate holders.

On top of all this, add the new kid on the block. The GPS system. Is there room in our minds for this piece of equipment? I also read where there is a “Heads-up display in the works that projects information on the windshield. This is not an FA-18. This is a car.

Is it possible to take the advice from that German car dealer? If we just drive the car and focus on just that task, there should be plenty of room on the road for us cyclists.

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One Response to Cats and Dogs (Part 2)

  1. Rant says:

    Jim,

    Good to see you posting again. I’m a big believer in that dealer’s advice — even if I don’t always follow it. With my new car (a MINI, which is a BMW product these days) the cupholders are devilishly grippy. So I can put my takeaway cup of coffee from the local coffeeshop into the cupholder, but darned if I can remove it while driving and take a sip. Probably all for the better. Who wants to spill coffee in their new car, anyway?

    I’ve seen too many distracted drivers while riding and driving. They scare the daylights out of me. Maybe someday people won’t have to cram 48 hours into a 24-hour day. And maybe, when that happens, people won’t be as distracted while driving, because they’ll be able to, well, just drive.

    – Rant

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