On Monday the Minnesota Senate passed a bill - joining 16 other states - asserting Minnesota will be a state that enforces hands-free driving. This has been a bill that has taken about 10 years to push through. The supporters are, naturally, very relieved.
As a trauma-informed therapist I am moved by the statement Esme Murphy included in her article where a woman indicated every time they come to support the bill they have to relive their awful experiences as it relates to their devastating losses at the hands of distracted driving.
So now it is time - Minnesota drivers - to become mindful drivers. This means setting our phones up to be used only with voice activation. It means every time you want to grab your phone while driving, you observe that urge and let it sit in your purse or in your briefcase until you arrive at your destination. No, not until the next stoplight. I don’t think a cop is going to let anyone off because you say, “but officer, I wasn’t moving. I was at a stoplight.” No excuses. We are being invited to drive mindfully. As Jon Kabat Zinn says, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” I think I’ve heard him and others add to this, “…as if your life depends on it.” And it does!
This change, so necessary for everyone’s safety, will require… No. It will demand we be mindful of what we are doing on the road and practice doing one thing at at time. JUST driving. So start taking steps to set up your phone to be hands-free. When you think you have to check something right now, get into the habit of asking Siri to remind you to “call Mom about the taking care of the dog this week,” or “call and make my doctors appointment.” Get all your numbers dialed in with contact information so you can ask Galaxy to dial your friend when you need to talk to them in a moments notice. And most of all start imagining observing the urge to grab your phone, but NOT grabbing it. Because at the end of the day this is what will need to happen. We need to stop doing two things at once. We need to drive when we’re driving. We can do this!