8 Things Not to Do at a Stoplight

All you can eat buffet signFor the modern man or woman, few things are as horrifying as the prospect of wasting time.  
Yet, the average American spends an average of 2 years of their life waiting in line.  To cope with this discrepancy, modern bloggers have come up with a number of ways to stay productive and/or entertained in micro pockets of time or within confined areas:  waiting in line at amusement parks, standing in an elevator, and waiting out a frozen computer, to name a few.  (In a truly inspiring demonstration of multitasking, the author of the last page is endorsing several dozen products on their list of things to do while waiting for something else to happen.)

Of course, there isn’t anything wrong with questing for constant occupation per se.  However, with tasks that demand all of our attention, this quest is counterproductive at best.  For instance, attempts to stay busy while driving contributed to the almost 4,000 injuries in distracted driving accidents that took place in 2010.  

Perpetual productivity is a noble aim, but should never jeopardize public safety–not even in the following ways:  

1.  Chinese Fire Drills

During a Chinese fire drill, “all the members of a vehicle bail out and dash laps around the car until the light changes or the other people around you get really pissed” (as they probably do the moment they see the car doors opening).  It surely goes without saying why this is a bad idea when you really think of it; so nothing more will be said on this topic. 

2.  Watch Movies on the Overhead DVD Player

In fairness, the stipulation that the director’s cut of Lawrence of Arabia be watched “one minute at a time” is certainly less egregious than it should be.  Nevertheless, in a world where red lights do not invariably last for one minute and drivers run red lights, the better choice is to just pay attention to the road.

3.  Change Pants/Brush Teeth

These seem not to be common challenge/recommendations, but if this forum page is to be believed, they’ve been done.  Possible objections to the both that have nothing to do with traffic safety and plenty to do with public decency and hygiene, respectively speak for themselves.

4.  Eat

The impulse to devour French fries at the first opportunity is nearly as strong as the compulsion to put olives one one’s fingertips while reciting “Little Jack Horner.”  However, it has been posited that this all-too-common justification contributes to a staggering 80% of car accidents.  The overpowering aroma of takeaway notwithstanding, putting off gratification to prevent a distracted driving accident is a worthwhile endeavor.

5.  Primp

Given the impossibility of focusing on any outside tasks while grooming, its commonality is surprising.  In fact, this blogger even encourages tweezing and dental inspections at stoplights (a greater shame since other items on the list aren’t half bad).  As with Lawrence of Arabia viewing, it’s impossible to tell when the light changes if you aren’t looking at it; and road rage is enough of a problem without the needless aggravation of other drivers who would rather not wait for the person ahead of them to snap out of it.

6.  Do Anything on This List.

While there are many lists floating through cyberspace suggesting various activities while waiting for the light to turn green, the one compiled by The Redhead Riter—a list that includes checking the tires, cleaning out the vehicle, and taking pictures—is just unsettling.  In all likelihood, it is meant as an extended joke whose jocularity is just dubious enough to be taken seriously by the wrong audience.  Spelunking for coins that have fallen under the car mats is difficult enough when the car is parked in the driveway; the contortions required to gain access to the car’s remote regions might qualify a person for acceptance into Cirque du Soleil.  “[Y]ou could find enough change for a dinner at a five star restaurant if you have been really lazy about dropping coins,” the Riter says…and we can only hope that no one tries.

7.  Use Your Phone

Items 2 and 3 on this list of suggestions involve taking advantage of delays in your commute to send progress reports to whoever is waiting for you via cell phone.  To the author’s credit, he includes the caution that phone use in the car is illegal in some places; however, legality should not be the only thing preventing you, as drivers on cell phones are as impaired as drunk drivers and are up to 23 times more likely to cause a distracted driving accident than an unimpaired driver.

8.  Make a Right-Hand Turn without Looking Left First

While knowing this is critical to passing any driving test, § 41-6a-305 4c(i) makes it explicit that right turns should be executed at red lights only when the coast is clear.  This principle is achingly obvious to most drivers.  However, even achingly obvious rules may be broken in cases of distracted driving.  This rule and others are endangered by inattention to the road.  

Sadly, the actions listed above contribute to thousands upon thousands of car accidents in the U.S. every year.  Yet, there is some consolation in the fact that personal injury attorneys are there to help the victims of those accidents to obtain reimbursement for their medical and other costs following a distracted driving accident.  For those who have fallen victim to car accidents in the Salt Lake City area, Christensen & Hymas offer free legal advice and advocate on contingency.  To contact their office, call (801) 506-0800.

Image courtesy of Wesly Fry
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Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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