When I was in middle school, I carpooled with a friend whose dad would vigorously mow his stubble with electric clippers while driving us through the busy, chaotic streets of Los Angeles. I understood back then — and I understand even more so now, as a highly stressed adult — that he was insanely busy and felt like he needed to multitask by primping himself for work while driving his kids and their friends to school.
I never felt like I was in danger while watching him nimbly trim his whiskers with one hand and hold the steering wheel steady with the other, nor did he ever rapidly swerve the car or slam on the brakes too quickly; from what I can remember, at least. But now that I can drive, frequently need to shave (among other things that keep me from looking like I was stuck on a deserted island for nine years with nothing but a large coconut) and have lived through the ongoing battle against texting and driving, doing just about anything while navigating the roadways seems… reckless, negligent and dangerous? And apparently, any kind of grooming while driving qualifies as all three of those things.
Broadly speaking, distracted driving claimed 2,841 American lives in 2018 alone. While that might seem like a relatively low number, it also caused an estimated 400,000 injuries and certainly many more minor crashes. One English survey from 2009 even suggests that 500,000 crashes are caused each year as a result of people applying makeup while driving. Even at only 45 miles per hour, your car travels 66 feet per second, which means a lot can happen in the time it takes to, say, check your beard for stray hairs.
“The only thing I do while driving is use toothpicks,” says Mark, a commercial truck driver and a man who spends most of his time behind the wheel. And while he says shaving might not be too hard to do without looking in your mirrors, he emphasizes, “I don’t ever shave or anything, because I don’t want to get hair all over my lap, and I live in the truck.” Which, fair point.
Furthermore, Mark adds, “You’re supposed to have both hands on the wheel. Technically, it’s illegal to be eating. It could be argued that even drinking coffee while driving is illegal, technically, because you’re supposed to have both your hands on the wheel; you’re supposed to be alert and driving.” The same applies to grooming, he says, and in many states, their distracted driving laws are loose enough for you to be ticketed if a police officer spots you shaving while driving (and yes, that includes manscaping, too).
So, while I understand the stress that could lead someone to feel like the only time they have to groom themself is behind the wheel, I count myself and my friends lucky that we never endured a fender bender during our hazardous carpools. I also encourage everyone to find time to take care of their grooming needs outside of driving, not only because primping in the bathroom is way, way safer, but also because making time to take care of yourself works wonders for your mental health (and because, like Mark said, nobody wants to drive around in a car sprinkled with beard hairs and shaving cream).