In short, do you drive while distracted?
In the upsetting episode, actor Patrick Dempsey’s beloved fictional neurosurgeon character—aka “McDreamy”—did something appallingly inappropriate and incongruous for a talented brain doctor on TV (or a real M.D., for that matter).
Dempsey’s Dr. Derek Shepherd drove while distracted, which triggered his untimely death.
More specifically, after rescuing and helping four people from a massive car wreck that he witnessed, he leaned over to hunt for and then answer his ringing cell phone.
But in those few seconds, he didn’t pay attention, a huge trucker sped towards him.
McDreamy’s stupid split second decision to pick up his cell phone cost him his life. The four-wheeler came blazing out of nowhere and smashed into him, leading to his demise hours later.
The gut-wrenching Grey’s Anatomy episode should, I hope, wake up all drivers: None of us should answer our cell phones while driving.
What I find curious is that attention has been focused on the ineptitude of the on-call doctor, who dilly-dallied at dinner and didn’t get to the hospital in time to save McDreamy.
Rather, our focus should be on the fictional doctor’s reprehensible on-the-road behavior.
FYI, the phrase, “distracted driving” means you’re “doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving,” the CDC explains.
And, as we saw on Grey’s Anatomy, distracted driving can increase your chances of getting into a crash.
There are three main types of distraction, according to the CDC:
- “Visual: taking your eyes off the road;
- “Manual: taking your hands off the wheel; and
- “Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving..”
Distracted driving can include things like:
- Using a cell phone
- Using such in-vehicle technologies such as your GPS, and
- Searching for something.
Unfortunately, Dempsey’s Dr. Shepherd is in good company.
According to a 2011 CDC Distracted Driving study, 69 percent of drivers in the United States ages 18 to 64 reported that they’d talked on their cell phone while driving within the 30 days before they were surveyed.
Apparently, they’re not as distracted in Europe.
I hope that this scary Grey’s Anatomy episode generates some massive behavior changes.
Wouldn’t it be nice if McDreamy’s fictional death wakes people all across America and the world to the dangers of driving while distracted?
For me, this distressing episode aired several months after I returned been on a long long cross-country road trip, which took me through such scenic or booming places as Colorado Springs, Miami Beach, Boca Raton, Sea Island, Savannah, Hilton Head, Charleston, Atlanta, Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans, San Antonio, Las Cruces and Tucson. Alas, I got into a car crash while on my journey, and I unhappily totaled the wonderful Toyota Camry my Mom gave me 53 days before she passed away, but I was driving while distracted.
In fact, while on my road trip — months before McDreamy died — I created some Healthy Rules of the Road.
Sure enough, one of them is that I never leave my cell phone on while driving. That way I’m just not tempted to answer it.
So for your safety, please:
Turn off your cell phone off before you begin to drive. That way you won’t be tempted to answer it. You could save your and others’ lives.
Join the Conversation: Do you talk on your cell phone while driving? Are you going to stop, as the CDC suggests?