Do you answer your cell phone if it rings while you're behind the wheel of your car?
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 character, Dr. Derek Shepherd, behaved drearily while driving.
In short, the renowned neurosurgeon 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.
Whether or not the episode was a dream -- which avid fans of the show such as myself really hope -- 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 death wakes people all across America and the world to the dangers of driving while distracted?
For me, this distressing episode aired days before I'm about to hit the road for my second recent cross- country road trip.
(Back in November, I unexpectedly took a spontaneous, end-of-year, two-month road trip, which took me all over the south and part of the Midwest to 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. Incidentally, 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. FYI, I was not driving while distracted, but I was in a city I didn't know well.)
In fact, even before this depressing Grey's Anatomy episode aired, I've been creating some Healthy Rules of the Road.
Sure enough, one of them is:
Turn my cell phone off while driving so I'm not tempted to answer it.
Later, I'll post more about my Healthy Rules of the Road.
I'll also share tips about how you can Drive to Heal™, as I recently discovered.
In the meantime, I invite you to do two things:
- First, take the Pledge to not drive and text. But, in addition, promise yourself not to talk on the phone while driving either.
- Then, join the conversation. Do you talk on your cell phone while driving? If so, will you stop doing so now that a beloved fictional character died because of his distracted driving? Talk to us now. And make sure to share on Facebook, too.