This weekend I participated in a workshop in Soft Addictions. I expected to focus most of my energy on my sugar addiction, which has been a struggle for me for as long as I can remember. While I did spend some time and energy examining that habit, a different addiction came to the foreground as the weekend progressed:

Texting While Driving

Woman sending text messages while driving.

In the workshop, we were divided into groups of six. When I admitted to them that I texted while driving, one of my group members looked at me with a heartfelt gaze and said, “Stop doing that. For real.”

Later in the weekend, I found out that he texts while driving too—as did every one of the six people in my group.

According to the NHTSA, if you’re traveling at 55mph and take your attention away from the road for 5 seconds (the minimum amount of time it takes to check your phone), you will travel the length of a football field without looking at the road! Texting while driving makes a crash up to 23 times more likely. In comparison, dialing makes a crash 2.8 times more likely and talking or listening makes a crash 1.3 times more likely. And while 34% of American drivers say they have texted while driving, I’m sure the number is much higher.

In my workshop this weekend, at least two out of 35 participants had been in car crashes which were their fault and had resulted from their texting while driving. And at least one of them did not stop the habit.

I started to get real about my own addiction to texting while driving and the true level of risk I’m taking every time I do it. And when it was time to choose one of our addictions and write a “Dear John” letter to the addiction bidding it farewell, I chose texting while driving as my target.

Here’s the poem:

Texting while driving, you kept me connected.
I’m addicted to you. It’s like I’m infected.

Despite all the stories of death and of gore,
My phone seems to call to me… LOOK AT ME MORE!!

Well, starting right now, I choose to connect
To my learning brain rather than gadgets electric.

I’ve got options – like language CDs. Books on tape.
That message that dinged me? It simply can wait.

I yearn to connect… but for that I must LIVE.
And texting while driving? You’ve just gotta give.

 – Brenda Bernstein, November 14, 2014

On the way home from the workshop, I called a friend before starting to drive. When I hung up the phone, I saw that I had emails and messages I could read if I wanted to. I noted my impulse to pull down the menu that would allow me to read my emails, and, instead of checking the messages, checked the impulse. It felt scary and good.

If you are a fellow driver while texting, please take a good look at what you’re putting at risk: not just your own life, but the lives of the drivers and passengers around you. Especially as the holidays are approaching—a time when many of us will be driving to see family and friends—let’s make a commitment to kick one of our most dangerous addictions, and DRIVE SAFE.


  1. I have seen this problem from two angles. My friend has a very busy life. Every time I ride as the front seat passenger with her! she is reading email or phone messages. Every single time! Its like they are driving blindfolded, I worry about a serious accident every time that I drive with them. She does it less because they know I will comment about it constantly.

    I have almost had first hand experience with texting and driving. Two years ago, I was almost rear ended when reading a text on Monona Drive at a stop light when the red changed to green. The car changed lanes and clipped by at fast rate of spend. Just like reading a book and driving would be stupid, this is equally dumb.

  2. Texting while driving is not at all dangerous, if the passenger does it. Tell your friend that you will insist on your driving if she is texting, and be prepared to get out to make your point.
    Attorneys in accident cases love to discover that the opposing driver was texting — nuff said.
    The real test is whether you have a smart phone, or it has you – the same with any addiction.

  3. Brenda,
    Thanks for sharing this. This is a really important issue, and I now find myself checking the impulse to look at my phone. If I can’t let it go, I’ll have to wait till the next exit to pull over.

    Thanks again,

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