This is definitely good fuel for family discussion – why the National Safety Council recently “called for a nationwide ban on the use of cellphones while driving, citing overwhelming evidence of the risk of injuries and death from driver distraction,” as reported in a commentary at the Christian Science Monitor. Or why California “banned texting behind the wheel and, along with several other states, prohibits the use of hand-held phones while allowing drivers to talk with hands-free devices.” But even hands-free phone conversations in cars have been found to be risky. Because the risk is not where hands are (or aren’t), it’s in where the mind is. If the mind is elsewhere while driving, talking is risky even when both hands are free. Research at the University of Utah found that drivers talking on cellphones “performed no better, and by some measures worse, than drivers who were legally drunk,” commentator Myron Levin adds. Meanwhile, 80% of cellphone owners make calls while driving, and nearly 20% send text messages, Levin cites a Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. survey as finding. I’m thinking the discussion is only partly about phone in cars. There’s a broader, deeper discussion about “presence” that needs to really kick in worldwide. We could talk with our children about how, when we’re fully present in what we’re doing any given moment – in a car driving, in a classroom listening to a teacher, or on the phone listening to a friend working through something, etc. – then the tools we use (cars, ears, phones) are more likely to be constructive and the experience more likely to be both safe and meaningful.