Dear Abby: The other day, while backing out of a parking space, I nearly hit a woman who was walking behind my car with her toddler son. I didn't see them because I was dialing my cellphone and was distracted. The woman rightfully yelled at me to pay attention and get off my phone, and although she was gracious and encouraged me to consider it a "wake-up call," I didn't react as kindly to her out of embarrassment.
Instead, I became defensive and didn't apologize, even though it was my fault.
I shudder to think of what might have happened, and I admit this wasn't the first close call I've had. I'm a married mother of two and should know better.
While I can't go back and find her, I hope the woman sees this letter. I want her to know that because of that incident, I now lock my purse and phone in the trunk or place them on the backseat out of reach before I start my car. This way, I avoid the temptation to look at messages or make a call.
I have also asked my kids to keep me accountable by reminding me if I happen to forget. They will be driving in a few years, and I want to set a good example for them.
Please pass this idea along - especially to moms like me who try to multitask in the car. - Hands on the Wheel in California
Dear Hands on the Wheel: Your suggestion of placing your purse and phone on the backseat out of reach is a good one.
You are really lucky you didn't kill or seriously injure that mother and her child.
Regardless of whether or not the woman sees your letter, I hope it will remind other drivers of the danger of driving while distracted.
And while I'm on the subject, I read an article recently that discussed distracted walking. According to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, this has caused an increase in pedestrian deaths. In 2011, more than 1,500 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms because of injuries they suffered while using a portable electronic device.
The safest course of action for drivers and pedestrians is to do only one thing at a time, and to be fully present while doing it.
Dear Abby: I have been divorced for 13 years, and I often wonder how to fill out questionnaires that ask my marital status. I have recently started checking "single" because enough time seems to have passed, and I don't define myself by my divorce. However, now I'm wondering if there's a certain etiquette recommended. - Status Unknown in Ohio
Dear Status Unknown: Honesty is recommended. As much as you might like to present yourself that way, you are no longer single. Calling yourself single is dishonest. As someone who has been married and divorced, you are a divorcee - and you will be until you remarry. Saying you are single is a misrepresentation of the facts.
Dear Abby: I have a son-in-law whom I hate to ask questions. He goes into so much detail that I'm always sorry I asked. Is there any way to make him get to the point? - Likes It Brief
Dear Likes It Brief: Yes. Explain that when he goes into so much detail, you can remember only 10 percent of what he says, so please get to the point. And when he forgets, remind him.
Write to Dear Abby at P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069 or at