Hello from San Diego, California! Compared to some of the other questions you get, I think this one is pretty simple. To put it plainly, my wife drives too fast and often while texting. She has gotten three speeding tickets in the last two years and our insurance rates are going through the roof. She also follows other cars too closely all the time.
This didn’t used to bother me, because I didn’t have to ride in the car with her very often and we didn’t used to have kids. Now we have 13 month old twins and I am sick with worry every time she drives away with them in the car. I also have to get a ride from her to work most days since we have decided to be a one-car family for a while (she isn’t working right now, I am).
I have tried to talk to her about this before but she is extremely sensitive about being criticized, especially when it comes to her driving. On the texting issue, she says she needs to look at her phone to know what’s happening in her day.
What can I do to get my wife to slow down and stop using her phone in the car?
-Scared for My Kids
You know what else is about to go through the (sun)roof? One or both of your babies.
Your letter couldn’t have come at a better time, because I was almost involved in a horrific crash about three days ago because of a driver like your wife.
I am not a slow driver, so it takes a tremendously impatient person to feel I need tailgating. When this does happen, my general reaction is to slow WAY down. Because of this, another driver sped ahead of me, cut me off and slammed on their brakes. In that moment, I saw my life flash before me.
It wasn’t pretty, by the way. I’m thinking I should find religion.
Besides the opportunity to make your question all about me, it is also a good one because I can answer it with great rapidity, much as your wife can get from point “A” to point “B.”
Would you let your wife drive drunk with your kids in the car? Would you put a tab of acid in her morning tea and send her on her way with your precious offspring tucked into their carseats? No? Because new studies (look ’em up) show that distracted driving, especially when combined with speeding, is killing way more people these days than impaired driving.
Let’s address the speeding issue first.
Your wife isn’t working and she doesn’t have a lot of appointments, so she can’t even try to justify driving fast. While I can imagine being in the car with two 13 month old brats can be trying at times, that’s no reason to put their lives at risk. Remember, ending your child’s life is only an option while they are still “living at home,” as it were.
Of course, the problem isn’t speed, it’s the sudden reduction of speed to 0 mph. That’s when things get tricky, and unless your wife is a moron she must know that the faster you are traveling at the point of impact, the more damage will be done to your body when it comes to rest. Does she want those kids flying out of the car faster than audiences did “Battlefield Earth?” I assume not.
Finally, she is risking provoking road rage in another driver and therefore putting herself and your kids in harm’s way because she angers some nut job with a weapon. I abhor guns and violence (unless you want to shoot Donald Trump because I’m OK with that) but there have been times when obnoxious drivers have elevated my blood pressure and anger to such a level that I can understand why some people lose it in these situations.
Now onto the subject of texting or other phone usage while driving. Take a look at this video (it’s only about 30 seconds long)
And now imagine your babies were in that car.
Imagine your wife being distracted while driving down the road and hurting someone else’s child.
You have a moral duty to get your wife’s driving under control. You will not be able to live with yourself if something happens and you know you could have prevented it.
Here’s my advice:
1. Sit down with your wife and google “texting driving accidents.” Make her watch at least 30 minutes of these videos with you, and tell her to picture herself in the car with your babies.
2. Tell her you love her and the kids and would be destroyed if anything happened to them.
3. Ask her to attend a driving safety class with you at your local DMV.
4. Show her how much money is being blown on increased insurance rates because she has a lead foot. For maximum impact, translate that into pairs of boots and/or shoes that could be bought with the savings if she were to clean up her driving record.
If all of that fails to have any impact (ha!), you should not let your wife drive with your children in the car. You should consider calling your insurance agent, explaining the situation to them, and asking them to cancel her insurance.
If you get really desperate, I would arrange a DUI pop. Here’s how it goes:
You leave the babies at home with a sitter and take the wife to dinner. Then you proceed to get her absolutely shitfaced. Just before you leave, you ask her if she will drive home. Because she is a dangerous dumb fuck behind the wheel anyway, she will have no problem with that.
Then go to the bathroom and make an anonymous call to 911. Tell them you are a diner at the restaurant and pretty sure a woman is about to drive drunk. Describe the car, your wife and voila! You should be pulled over before she has the chance to hurt anyone – and possibly before you even leave the parking lot.
Not only will this be a wake-up call for her, I know from our email chit-chat she had a DUI 3 years ago, which means with this new one she will lose her license for at least a year in your jurisdiction. That there will buy you some time to knock some sense into this woman.
I don’t think it will come to that, however. I think that most people cannot watch these videos and walk away unchanged by them. You told me she is a really great mom and loves her babies to death – so you need to step in and remind her that loving your babies to death means not getting them there prematurely.
Please have this talk with her TODAY and let me know what happens. I would love to do a follow-up blog on this issue because it is so critical in this day of “smart phones” and everyone being so overloaded and rushing to and fro. We all need to take a giant collective deep breath and remember that if you get there in a body bag, you probably won’t enjoy the party.