What could a comment on text messaging and driving possibly do with a blog that primarily discusses securities and commercial matters? A lot, actually.
Here’s the deal. Too many people are injured or killed because of texting. It’s bad enough that we have a whole host of distractions (some minor, some major) that keep us occupied/entertained/awake in our cars. We eat in our cars. We put TVs and refrigerators in our cars. Some cars now are rolling WiFi hotspots.
Do we need to text? I will admit that, until the other day, I would text from my car on occasion. It’s particularly tempting when I am on those long, boring, stretches of the turnpike north of Yeehaw Junction. (For those of you not in Florida, that is a real place. Look here) Not any more.
Nothing is as important as a life, other than someone else’s. You want to kill yourself because you want to write “ROFLMAO” (which is tough to actually accomplish in a car), that’s your own stupid right. But to take out someone else’s parent, sibling, grandparent, spouse or friend? That’s just plain wrong and selfish.
Here’s why this rant applies to securities. We live in a connected world. A broker doesn’t just sit in an office. They’re on the road, too. And most of them work for commissions, so a lack of communication could result in a loss of income. So could a deadly car accident. Further, if there is an accident and the broker hurts someone, then it may be the firm’s responsibility. Then what happens to the broker’s career?
There are technological advances that will help deal with the temptation. They’re not perfect, because they’re still a distraction, but in my opinion, they are better than texting. Siri, on the Apple 4S, reads texts and allows you to respond by voice. Windows phone will read texts as well. And it does this really cool thing with a Bluetooth connection where it will read the text and allow you to respond by voice.
Android phones allow text by dictation natively. I don’t recall if it will read them. Finally, Blackberry, my weapon of choice, has apps such as Vlingo and drivesafe.ly that will read and allow dictation. Because my device is a touchscreen, Dragon Dictate for Blackberry is not available. I used it on my Curve and it worked well.
My car will read my texts and emails to me. But I can’t respond.
None of these “solutions” is a cure for distraction. I can’t even tell you if they reduce distraction or if they just make me feel better. But, for the most part, I am not taking my eyes off the road trying to tell if I typed an “f” or a “d”.
I am not advocating banning the use of mobile devices in the car. They have saved me time and heartache countless times. But when I think of the times I texted when I should have just pulled over, I cringe. Not any more. And you shouldn’t either.
That’s enough ranting for one lawyer from Jupiter, Palm Beach County, Florida. I’m Marc Dobin.