By Chris Moesch
I’m guilty of distracted driving. I’m not putting on makeup or texting or looking for music. I’m distracted by what other drivers are doing.
Until recently, the worst example took place on the Kensington Expressway. I was on my way home at the peak of rush hour and gripping the wheel like grim death when I glanced to the car on my right. The driver was keeping up with traffic, but was holding a foam take-out container in one hand and eating out of it with the other. I don’t know how she was steering, but she was right in the middle of all of us, going about 50 mph, no hands.
I’ve heard people brag about being able to steer with their knees, but I didn’t want to believe that anyone would (a) do it or (b) admit it. But I saw it for myself.
That was one for the books until a few weeks ago, and I will not exaggerate one bit of this.
I was stopped at the light at Niagara Falls Boulevard and Sheridan Drive, heading to the Boulevard Mall at about 9 a.m. (I’m 65 years old and New York State law requires that I mall walk.) The light at that corner is a pretty long one, so I spent the time reading bumper stickers and watching drivers gradually creep closer to the intersection, as if that would make the light change faster.
I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw a big GMC truck behind me and the driver was eating a huge burrito. My first thought was, “Who in the world eats a burrito at 9 in the morning?” My second thought was, “Ooooh! Burrito!”
He took a few bites and then leaned over to the passenger side, probably to get a drink or a napkin, I thought. But no.
He took out his laptop and balanced it on the steering wheel. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing so I turned around and attempted to glare at him, but he was so busy checking his email or creating a spreadsheet that he didn’t see me.
I thought I should take a picture of him and his license plate and report him, but then I would have been cited for using a phone while driving.
The light turned green and I thought he would finally come to his senses and put down the computer, but he didn’t. He held the laptop with his left hand and turned the steering wheel with his right hand, and continued down the boulevard with the laptop on his steering wheel.
I was amazed but quickly became furious. Texting is bad enough. How many more cars have to end up wrapped around trees before people get the message that nothing is that important? Pull over if you have to order a pizza or check your Instagram account. What would possess anyone to use a laptop while driving?
Distracted driving is no longer just a personal responsibility or action. I don’t eat or use my phone or look through my glove compartment or floss my teeth while I’m driving, so my full attention is on the road. And there lies the problem. I’ve seen drivers wearing headphones, shaving, cleaning their glasses, lighting cigarettes and turning around to yell at the kids in the back seat.
I’ve seen drivers hold pets on their laps, wipe off their windshields and pour sodas into water bottles – all while in motion.
I sincerely hope that all of the oblivious people I’ve seen are safe, but it’s more than likely that by now a couple of them have wrapped themselves around telephone poles or unfortunately hurt someone else.
So to those who drive with their knees, or with their pets or their computers on their laps, I tell you this: stay home. Eat at your table and use your computer on your couch. You don’t have the right to be on the road with me.
Chris Moesch, who lives in Kenmore, is retired and driving a new car with 12 airbags.