Distracted passengers

You would have had to be living in a cave to have not heard the term “distracted driving” over the past several years.
Jul 31, 2014


The increased usage of smartphones and texting while driving have really brought this dangerous act to the forefront.

Many will argue there are other forms of distracted driving, all of which often end with the same result — a tragic accident.

What we haven’t heard much about — and maybe you’re even hearing about it here for the first time — is what we’ll call “distracted passenger syndrome.” 

Those of us older than 30 can certainly recall those family trips when, in order to pass the time away, we played games with our siblings, and perhaps even fought a time or two before being told to climb over and sit behind the back seat and behave — which was possible because nobody was wearing a seat belt.

These days, kids are now glued to a DVD player or some other electronic device as soon as they climb in the car. What cause does that really have on these passengers?

No longer do they learn the lay of the land. Can they get from one side of town to the other? Do they know a red light means stop? What’s that ticking noise before we turn?

Kids are oblivious to what is going on around them while in the car, and ultimately it will result in the decline of driving skills, which will likely result in higher insurance rates and other expenses.

The next time a young person is traveling with you, have them put the electronic device down and pay attention to what is going on around them. Doing so might even force them to ask, “Are we there yet?”  

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty, Fred VandenBrand and Mark Brooky. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



I'm sorry, but this is errant nonsense. "Blah, blah, blah, kids these days, blah, blah, remember the good old days?" Three cheers for for the good old days, when car crashes caused kids to be ejected from cars like pudgy little missiles, and every trip turned into a fight that bred ever-deeper resentment of siblings!

I'm from that "older than 30 segment," and I remember taking long car trips. I read books in the back seat, looked up from to time, and went right back to it. It kept me entertained, happy, and out of my parents' hair. It was a victory for everyone.

Kids don't watch a DVD every time the car starts. They still get to see how cars operate on short hops, which is more useful. Driving on long "family trips" is a tedious matter, for the most part, even for the driver.

If a kid is always on a device and never looks up, that's one thing. However, complaining about kids in general being generally entertained on road trips is silly. More ridiculous still are the invented problems that will arise. You know when I got interested in the details of driving? When I was almost old enough to learn to drive.


Freddo - I usually agree entirely with your comments, but this time, I have to take the opposing side.

I believe the Our Views Team have hit on something. Growing up, long car rides meant geography games with little quizzes, questions about the car - how to figure mileage, what did gas fill-ups entail, rate of speed, what the various Interstate signs meant, etc. Prior to a car trip, we would look up information on various interesting stops along the way in the encyclopedia - this made the journey as much fun as the destination.

Too often, devices lead to a disengagement or distraction from ones surroundings, an isolation from the real life on the other side of the car window, and a lack of curiosity about the vehicle, the driving, the road.


How about lack of curiosity about anything,only about wassup?


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