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O.K., so we all reserve the right to change our minds every once in a while. But after her landmark show about cell phones and distracted driving, it seems that Oprah has changed the conditions of her No Phone Zone pledge on her website and it's left me wondering why. Here are the two pledges:
The January 18th version:
I pledge to make my car a No Phone Zone. Beginning right now, I will do my part to help put an end to distracted driving by not texting or using my phone while I am driving. I will ask other drivers I know to do the same. I pledge to make a difference.
The current version:
I pledge to make my car a No Phone Zone. Beginning right now, I will do my part to help put an end to distracted driving by pledging the safest driving behavior I can commit to (you chose one):
- I will not text while I am driving.
- I will not text while driving and will use only handsfree calling if I need to speak on the phone while I am driving.
- I will not text or use my phone while I am driving. If I need to use my phone, I will pull over to the side of the road.
Oprah, you have me scratching my head.
After all, the Washington Post reported on January 26, 2010:
Ten days after a national study found that cellphones and texting were to blame for 28 percent of crashes, a report released Friday concludes that hands-free cellphones are no less distracting than those held to the ear.
So did the Bluetooth lobby get to Oprah? Or did her staff rise up in mutiny when they could no longer make work calls from their cars? Perhaps we'll never know...
But Oprah's revision of her No Phone Zone pledge causes me some trepidation, because now my best friend Cyndie wants to resume her nightly cell phone call to me as she drives home from work. She promises to use her Bluetooth headset. But does she really need to call me from her car?
The bottom line is I feel obliged to decline her calls since I signed the original pledge, which means I don't talk or text on my cell in the car and I encourage others to refrain from doing these things too.
So sorry, Oprah, but I don't think you should have changed your mind on this subject. We need to put an end to distracted driving. Please don't give people an option to do this only halfway and half-assed. Go back to making the car a 100% Phone-Free Zone. Make everyone pledge: "If I need to use my phone, I will pull over to the side of the road."