by Bob Beranek
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I was following an automotive glass mobile unit recently and noticed that he was driving erratically. It was the middle of the day and I assumed that his driving was not due to over drinking but due to trying to find a customer’s home or vehicle. I was right. As I passed him to get out of harm’s way, I noticed that he was checking his smartphone and looking at street signs. This reminded me of the good old days when we didn’t have GPS or smartphones to get us to where we were going. We only had the directions the customer gave us and a map on a large, weirdly folded piece of paper.

One of the most dangerous acts a mobile automotive glass technician faces every day is driving his vehicle in daily traffic. Even today with all the technology available, driving is still one of the most dangerous acts performed and we do it while we’re looking for addresses and landmarks. Before technology, we were supposed to map our jobs in a logical manner on a laminated local map, then plot our route around detours and traffic patterns and then memorize our routes and turns to the next job before we left the current one.

Right. That isn’t going to happen.

What really happened was that we plotted our course for the day and took off. We referred to the map and directions written on our work order while driving with our knees. If we couldn’t find the address, we would pull over to a pay phone and call our customer service representative to complain that the directions didn’t match the map. That was sure safe and efficient, wasn’t it? No …

The question is, did it change much with the advent of technology? Sure, we have all this technology available to us but do we use it to its best advantage? GPS systems are great. They can be programed to make numerous stops and announce loud and clear all the turns, traffic hang-ups and detours in advance of tie-ups and delays. Smartphones are also amazing devices for an automotive glass technician. It immediately connects us with our office and our customers. We can take pictures and send them immediately to anyone we want. We can get accurate directions to any location in the world with little problem and see it from space. Wow. The problem? We try to do all of this while we’re driving a vehicle at highway speeds in heavy city traffic.

Having the technology in your hand does not mean that it is being used safely, it means that it needs to be used safely. Utilize the features built-in to help you such as voice activation instead of a keyboard, hands-free microphones, Bluetooth technology. In other words, keep your hand on the wheel. When a conversation becomes detailed and more complex, pull over and deal with the call. Your attention should be on the act of driving and nothing else.

Technology is a wonderful thing and we all find new ways of using it to improve our work product and our way of life. But when used improperly, it can take our life instead of improving it.