It was a busy Friday afternoon in Amherst, N.Y. People were in their cars, traveling in swarms, going hither and yon to accomplish a myriad of tasks for the approaching Memorial Day Weekend. As a consequence, the lanes of traffic were clogged everywhere.
We sat patiently, awaiting the red lights to change, so that we could proceed on our own list of the day’s tasks. It was then that I first noticed the “Motorized gophers” popping up around us. Several cars in front of us, there would be a vehicle waiting for the light to change. From our vantage point, there appeared to be no driver piloting the car. As the light changed, inpatient motorists behind the pilotless vehicle beeped their horns, signaling the car to get a move on. It is then when I noticed the “gopher phenomena.” After the first beep of a car’s horn, a head popped up into view. Like a startled gopher or prarie dog. The head swiveled around looking to see what was what. The driver had apparently been texting the White House or awaiting important messages from another planet.
“Huh, am I driving? “the body English said, before the situational awareness dawned on the tele-communicator and his/her leg muscled depressed the gas pedal. The car then moved forward. Those of us, in the vehicles behind, just shook our collective heads. We had long become inured to the clueless ones who pilot several thousand pounds of moving metal through swarms of busy traffic while trying to text the White House or receive and read e-mails from mars.
The “gopher phenomena” was a new one to me. After that day, I have often witnessed the phenomena, a startled head popping up after a following car beeped their impatience at the driver whose attention was elsewhere focused.
Sooner or later, the Insurance companies will force the issue. Texters and e-mailers, who get into an accident while their attention is diverted, will [probably find their coverage evaporate because of their culpable negligence in any collision caused by a distracted driver.
As for now, I just laugh when I see a “gopher head” pop up in traffic. I smile and then get as far away from that rascal as I can. At least with drunks and speeders you have a chance that they will miss you. A texter won’t even know it until you hear the sickening crunch of metal on metal.
Professional golfer Jordan Spieth, a model of good manners for all who watch him, has a pretty good public service commercial airing on the subject. His plaintive plea ends with the message “Please don’t drive distracted. It can wait.” Right on Jordan, may the force be with you.
Joseph Xavier Martin