Just Drive

at 11:35 PM

She was doing a spectacular make-up job. Lips were glossed, cheekbones highlighted, and -- as I watched -- eyeliner applied with surgical precision. And, most impressive, she was doing it while driving 60 miles an hour.

During my commute, the motor vehicle multi-tasking I observe is awe-inspiring. From lipstick to lattes, I've seen drivers doing almost everything behind the wheel. Simple texting or holding a cell phone is so 2009. Lately, it's moveable feasts in cars all around me, from scalding coffee sipped precariously, to sushi with chopsticks. And portable Internet devices have only made it worse, with drivers poking away on-line on the on-ramp. Some dress and drive. I saw a lady using a curling iron on the freeway, and some guy in a tux trying to tie a bow tie at the Bay Bridge metering light.

I've observed as drivers at red lights shaved, injected medication or plucked eyebrows. I've watched people singing along to inaudible sound systems so dramatic you'd think they were starring on Broadway, not driving on Broadway.

And it's making me nervous. We car-crazy Californians need to remember a Lexus is not a living room. That's a big hunk of steel you're in and it's moving fast. The California Office of Transportation Safety thinks so, too, estimating 20 percent of crashes -- 600 deaths per year -- are the result of distracted driving.

Some activities were never meant for multi-tasking. One false move and that lady applying false eyelashes in the rear view mirror may never look pretty again. And no text message is that important it can't wait until you stop.

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So put away the coffee, the croissants, the eyeliner and the iPads and drive with both hands. Because the only thing anyone should do while driving is drive. Unless, of course, you are listening to NPR.

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With a Perspective, I'm Richard Swerdlow.

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