Thursday, June 12, 2008

While Driving

I was driving in to the office this morning and when I halted at a stoplight at a busy intersection, I did my normal glance around at the other drivers next to me. To my left was a man - not a young man, not an older man, just an average aged man - sitting in his white Lexus ... reading. Not a map or glancing at a little note ... he was full-on reading an actual book, propped on the steering wheel, balanced between his two hands that were (ironically) placed in the "10 & 2" positions. While this stoplight is known to be kinda long, it's not "read a whole page and make it worthwhile to pull out the book" long, if you know what I mean.
So I continued to watch.

The light for our lanes turned green.

The cars began to move.

His car began to move.

He didn't put down the book!!!

Seriously. He was driving while reading his book.

I'm not sure about anyone else, but I'm pretty sure (actually, I'm REALLY pretty sure) that when I took driver's education *mumblemumble* years ago, they were fairly strict on the "Don't read while driving" policy.

I knew that I didn't want Baby anywhere near him if he came to an exciting or dramatic part, or any part for that matter, so I quickly sped her up, got around him and put him far into my rearview mirror. (I'd like to point out here that Baby only went over the speed limit briefly to insure her safety and if we had been caught, I would have been certain to point out to the officer the reason for doing so ... white guy, white Lexus, reading a book while driving ... that should have gotten me out of the ticket ... right?

However, here's the thing that got me thinking.

As drivers ... we are technically reading all the time. Our roads and highways are littered with stuff to read. I'm not talking about the road signs, the highway signs, the information signs. Those are necessary for safe driving and can be grasped in a glance. I'm talking about bill boards, advertisements, information painted on the sides of buildings.

When you stop and really think about it ... it's crazy!!

Remember the old Burma Shave signs? Okay ... no, I'm not old enough to remember them originally, but my grandparents lived in the country and riding in the backseat during those family trips, I still saw many of these signs. They really weren't very big ... just big enough for a few words. The gimmick was the fact that six (6) of these signs, placed consecutively along the road, read as a quick little poem.

Sign #1 - Don't loose

Sign #2 - your head

Sign #3 - to gain a minute.

Sign #4 - You need your head

Sign #5 - your brains are in it.

Sign #6 - Burma Shave

Quick and entertaining, these signs did what they were supposed to do - they got people driving by to think about their product. Isn't that what advertising is all about? Getting people to think about the product being offered?

Now the billboards are huge ... and many of them are now changeable - flipping between two different advertisers. Cause as I'm whipping along the highway at 65 miles per hour, I can certainly keep my eyes posted to one billboard to read, not just one advertisement but two (often having to also make note of the corresponding telephone number). Who needs to watch out for the other vehicles going the same speed, if not faster, trying to read the same billboards.

Not to mention the companies that paint their information on the side of buildings.

Especially fun are the billboards that come in levels ... some of them stacked three billboards high. There are many of these around the Branson, Missouri area - hawking the various shows, hotels, restaurants, etc. With little space between the billboard poles, maneuvering the twists and turns for the hill country roads becomes a bit treacherous as you try to read each and every sign. Heaven forbid you miss one and don't eat at the most scrumptious restaurant available. I wonder if you can have a comp ticket if you tell the the ticket office that you broke your collar bone in an vehicular accident as you were trying to read the billboard advertising their show?

It's crazy!!

*mumblemumble* years ago I had the opportunity to travel to Hawaii. As I traveled along the roads of three of the islands, I was amazed at the beauty all around me. I also felt that I was missing something, when it dawned on me ... there were no billboards or advertisements anywhere along the roads. Hawaii, valuing the beauty nature has bestowed, does not allow their roads to be littered with advertising billboards and signs.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the other states of our nation valued their natural beauty as well? Books wouldn't be needed to entertain while driving if people simply gazed upon and appreciated the natural beauty around them. More importantly, wouldn't it be interesting to find out the statistics on the number of accidents/injuries that are advertising related?

Perhaps hospitals could put that question on their admittance forms ...

How did these accident injuries occur? (check all that apply)

Box #1 - reading book while driving
Box #2 - reading billboard while driving
Box #3 - writing number down from advertisement while driving
Box #4 - reading and writing while driving


koosh said...

*laughs heartily* The THINGS you think about, honey! I have a humorous anecdote. When I was driving out, Kimi was giving me driving instructions over Bear Creek, describing every little detail of the terrain & after trying to write it all down I got frustrated when I realized that there was just one road - the main road called Bear Creek that I needed to be on all the way to Highway 9 and I informed her to stop with the blow-by-blow because I can't read and drive at the same time. Apparently Bill was present because he keeps bringing it up repeatedly (laughing) that I can't read and drive at the same time. Give me Google directions, huh? L at Soquel Ave., R at Front St., etc., etc. or guaranteed, I'll turn and get lost at that irrelevant Costco you mentioned in passing! *facepalms*

Anonymous said...

Huh. Interesting - I never knew that about Hawaii.

InkyOrchid said...

I had never noticed that about Hawaii, being too entranced with the scenery.