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In recent years road signs have popped up warning against texting while driving. This has become an epidemic among young people in particular. I know many of you reading this are teens and twenty-somethings. To you, I want to say …

STOP IT! TEXTING WHILE DRIVING IS MONUMENTALLY STUPID!

image of texting while drivingEnd of rant. What’s this have to do with exploring the trades? Well, when it comes to any job that puts you behind the wheel of an employer’s vehicle, your driving record will almost surely be checked before being hired or promoted to a position that requires operating a vehicle. This is not so much the employer’s decision as its insurance company’s. A bad driving record will disqualify you from many great job opportunities.

A bust for texting is just one of the ways you can disqualify yourself. A DUI is another automatic debit that will exclude you from most jobs that require driving. So will a slew of moving violations, especially speeding.

Trade employers pay large insurance premiums to stay in business, and insurance companies hate to pay claims. So they will do everything they can to minimize their risk. As a result most require the trade businesses they insure to do background checks with a state’s DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), along with drug testing, for anyone whose duties involve driving, operating machinery or using power tools. In essence, this covers all trade workers.

Career-killing aside, the biggest reason to avoid distracted or impaired driving of any kind is to avoid killing or crippling yourself and innocent motorists or bystanders. Sometimes this involves nothing illegal, but simply driving while drowsy. One study found that more than a third of drivers say they have fallen asleep at the wheel at some point in their lives, and more than 10% have done so in the past year. Young people in particular tend to not get enough sleep, whether due to working long hours or (more often) late-night partying.

Anyway, I welcome this opportunity to address a pet peeve. I never paid much attention to the road signs warning against texting, thinking it must be a rare occurrence.  Then a few months ago a driver suddenly cut in front of me while going 70 mph on a major interstate highway. I didn’t even have time to honk my horn, only to swerve sharply into the adjacent lane. Only by sheer luck was there nobody else coming up alongside me at the time. After I straightened out my vehicle I leaned on the horn and pulled next to the offending motorist. He never paid any attention. He was too absorbed with his smart phone perched on the wheel.

Then it happened again a few weeks later – TWICE in the same day. Once again a texter drifted into my lane while going full speed on an interstate highway, and a few hours later a young lady almost plowed into me while heading up a ramp merging onto the same interstate highway. She was driving with her knees on the wheel while her fingers flailed away at a keyboard. While speeding up and trying to merge! Sheesh.

STOP IT! TEXTING WHILE DRIVING IS MONUMENTALLY STUPID!