I was nervous in about 99% of the taxis I took in Bogotá. The drivers there are aggressive and there are no seat belts in the back seats. The worse part was that in almost cab I took, the driver was talking on the phone, and some texted as well. Then there was the one who was watching a YouTube video. Mostly while he was driving.
Occasionally, I said something, but often felt impeded by my poor Spanish. I considered offering to pay drivers more if they would not look at their phones during the trips, but never actually did it.
In some ways, the taxi experience in Buenos Aires is similar. The drivers are aggressive, but slightly less so than in Bogotá. The majority of the taxis also do not have seat belts in the back seats.
There is one major difference. The drivers here do not talk on their phones. Because it is prohibited. And people take this prohibition very seriously. The fines are high and it is not worth risking the negative impact on their licenses.
A few have glanced at their phones at red lights. One or two have answered the phone to say that they cannot talk, and those calls were very brief.
I actually feel safer in a taxi in Bs As than I do in DC, even though many intersections here have no traffic lights or stop signs.
When I started writing this, I did not intend to get up on a soapbox and preach about the dangers of distracted driving. But I find myself not wanting to resist the temptation because I know how extremely harmful car accidents can be. And because I do not want you increasing your risk of being hurt, or hurting someone else.
Three quick facts from the Put it Down campaign:
- Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times.
- Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.
- Headset cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use.
And, in case you have not seen it yet, take four minutes to watch this and remember that the only thing you should do while driving is drive.