thinking and driving

I'd like to say I'll never do it again, but I can't promise. Once again, I risked my life and other people's driving under the influence. No, I wasn't using alcohol, or any other mind-altering drug. I've been known to eat and drive, which can be dangerous. There's nothing like dropping a Whopper in your lap to distract you from traffic (my name is Dave, and I'm a food-aholic), but that's not the problem. Nor is writing and driving, though like most of these two at once combinations, penmanship and driving are both degraded.

But the most dangerous thing I do is think and drive. I believe in the power of the un-conscious mind, because something has to keep track of merging traffic and brake lights ahead.

I really shouldn't do all the planning, daydreaming, and general mental jumping around I do while I'm on the road. If you watched me, you'd think I'm a safe enough driver. But if you knew how little of my consciousness was devoted to the task at hand, you'd stay home.

I read a news story once of a man coming from a less technologically-advanced country who bought a new van and ran off the road within the first mile. He put the van on cruise con-trol, and, thinking that was like an auto-pilot, went in the back to check about something. I wish I didn't drive on mental autopilot. I mean if I were holding a timber rattlesnake,

I'd pay atten-tion, wouldn't I? The car's a lot more likely to kill me. Of course, I might daydream while milking rattlers, too, if I'd done it for twenty-three years.

People who're prone to drive drunk can now get devices that stop them from using their cars when they're impaired: breathalyzers connected to the ignition or number passwords that take a certain manual dexterity, and thus sobriety, to key in. What I want is a brain monitor that won't let me drive when I've got too much on my mind, or a buzzer that goes off when I start wool-gathering on the road.

Actually, the best thing to keep me from endangering my fellow drivers is also a thought. I'll just remember how many of the other people out there are thinking about what they should have said to Betty, or about next Saturday's party. That'll scare me straight.