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Kim Tomsic

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

RE: Escalating No Phone Zone Pledge to the No Home Zone Crusade

The influence Oprah harnesses by speaking a few words is nothing short of extraordinary. It’s like watching the wind whip a flock of moths on a new course. People don’t complain about the infectious sway her opinion holds over the majority because Oprah has proven to be a brilliant steward of her powerful gust. Currently, Oprah is using her persuasive energy to encourage people to give up a wide spread addiction: cell phone use while driving. Her campaign is called No Phone Zone.

Forfeiting phone use in the car is a sandy pill to choke down—many of us have become accustomed to the convenience of getting our to-do list done on the road. It’s handy to respond to emails at red lights, search movie listings while waiting for trains to pass, and make quick return calls at toll booths.

Many Internet users are on the No Phone Zone campaign trail; a shocking email blast is currently filling inboxes. It shows graphic images of a decapitated person and what’s left of his mangled car after an accident—one which was allegedly caused by a texting driver. Oprah may be on to something with her No Phone Zone campaign, but I wonder if the crusade should be on a broader spectrum…something on the magnitude of No Home Zone.

Driving down the road feeling traumatized by the above mentioned email blast, I was on the lookout for dangerous cell phone users. As I arrived at a red light, I took an anxious peek to my right and sure enough, a teen was on her Hubba Bubba pink phone; turning to my left, I saw a business man with a phone, no wait, not a phone but an electric razor clutched in his hand. I looked in my mirrors for an escape route from these dangerous drivers, and in the car behind me, there was a college student brushing her teeth and spiting into an empty water bottle. When the light turned green, the shaver pulled away, giving his chin a clean mowing. I continued driving, nervous now of both cell phone users as well as people seeking morning hygiene. Slowing to a safe distance from the shaver, talker, and brusher, I decided to change lanes, so I signaled and glanced to my blind spot only to discover the thirty-something man reading a magazine while driving! With my heart now bumping hard in my chest, I safely made a left turn, but felt overwhelmed with the amount of passing drivers toting Big Gulps and coffee mugs (I’ve heard the dangers of driving with hot coffee is equal to drunk driving).

Oprah’s campaign, No Phone Zone, invites people to “pledge to make [their] car a No Phone Zone.” I urge you to make it a No Home Zone—leave your novel, tooth brush, coffee mug, and coupon clipping at home. Oprah’s commitment states, “Beginning right now, I will do my part to help put an end to distracted driving by pledging the safest driving behavior I can commit to.” For more information, visit http://www.oprah.com/packages/no-phone-zone.html.

The conveniences cell phones offer in seemingly innocuous circumstances may tempt you to the next step—using features not just at red lights or toll booths, but while driving. It’s devilishly tempting to just click on that yoga app and check the next time for a Corepower class, and it’s oh so enticing to glance at your screen when you hear the beckoning bell, alerting you of a new message; and when you read the message, “want to have lunch”, it’s quick to zap in the three simple letters to reply “yes.” Do you hear the many justifiers used to make cell phone use while driving sound okay—just click, glance, brief response. So go ahead and make the pledge; people are proven to be more likely to follow through on a good idea when they make an oath. And in addition to choosing the “no texting while driving” option, mentally commit to the vow of no flossing, tweezing, reading, sandwich making, and hair braiding while driving too.

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