Opinion: Behind the wheel: Not the place for multi-tasking

I’m a multi-tasker … a diehard, 10-projects-at-once, check-things-off-the-to-do-list multi-tasker. I know other multi-taskers. Some of us wear the title like a badge …to a fault. Some of us don’t even want to be multi-taskers, we need to be. The parade of appointments, work schedules, family commitments, errands, social obligations, things to remember and things to do seems limitless.

This trait lends itself unkindly to driving. Time behind the wheel seems like just so much idle time if something else isn’t accomplished — a skipped meal consumed, that phone call returned, the map consulted, lip balm or lotion applied, that note written so I don’t forget to do that thing.

I’ve recognized in myself that this mentality needs to stop. I’ve realized that the very most important thing I have to do while I am driving is only to drive.
Not to lower my blood pressure or to recapture some “down time,” but because I’ve realized just what a tremendous responsibility it is to be behind the wheel. I’m in charge of a massive hunk of metal that could, if not operated with utmost vigilance, do property damage, injure someone or even end a life. That thought has become my guiding principle when driving.

I know I couldn’t forgive myself if I ever hurt another person by my careless actions behind the wheel, thinking that I needed to do one more little task when I should have given my entire attention to driving.

April 21 is Distracted Driving Awareness Day. As a member of the Sherburne County Safe Roads Coalition, I’d like to invite each of you to be mindful of the ways you are distracted while driving — not just multi-tasking, but radios, media devices, grooming, talking, texting, reaching for something.

Give them a long pause. Are any of them really worth the potential, permanent harm that could be done in the fraction of an inattentive second? For me the answer has overwhelmingly become, “No.” — Charlotte Strei, Elk River

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