Sage Advice: Husband Insists on Texting and Driving
Attempting to stop the reckless habits of your spouse
Dear Amy: My husband insists on being the driver on both long and short car trips.
He prefers his driving over my driving, as well as that of other family members or friends.
However, he has a bad habit of texting or otherwise playing on his phone while driving. I’ve told him to stop because I feel it is dangerous, but he feels he is in control and can “do both things at once.”
As the passenger, I’ve offered to search on his phone or reply to an email or text on his behalf, but he doesn’t accept these offers.
Most frequently, he gets annoyed at the suggestion that he put his phone away while driving. Before trips even begin, I’ve offered to drive, especially if the trip is happening during “business hours.” He refuses.
Most recently, we were on a family vacation drive that started on a Friday. My spouse spent the three-hour drive either taking conference calls, checking and responding to email, texting, and on Slack (instant messenger).
I don’t know what to do. It makes me so uncomfortable for him to be on the phone while driving, but he won’t let me take the wheel.
Dear Co-Pilot: If this driving dynamic continues – with your husband “not letting” you drive while he drives dangerously – then eventually (as the popular country western song says) Jesus is going to take the wheel, eliminating this problem altogether.
According to statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (nhtsa.gov), distracted driving accounted for 3,450 deaths in 2016, and 391,000 people were injured in distracted driving accidents that year. If a car is driving 55 mph, and you take your eyes off the road for even a second to check a text, your car is driving the length of a football field without you watching the road.
Your husband may not value your life, his life, or others’ lives enough to make a different choice. But you value all of these things, and so you should force the issue by “not letting” him drive you under these dangerous conditions.
The next time you two are about to take a longer trip, you should urge him – using all of the logical arguments – to either turn over the driving to you, or to basically let you co-pilot his phone. If he refuses, you should rent (or borrow) a car, and tell him you’ll meet him at your destination.
In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068
© 2019 by Amy Dickinson