Driven To Distraction: Wheelmate Steering Wheel Desk

Amazon review meme springs up on steering wheel desk.

While it’s easy for motorcyclists to fall into the trap of believing that car drivers are out to get them, it’s important to remember that four-wheelers seem equally intent on self-destruction. Why else would they demand more and more attention-stealing gadgets in new cars––touch-screen controls, Bluetooth connectivity, the ability to update their Facebook status while driving––despite being subjected to a blizzard of public-service ads and grisly statistics warning them about the dangers of distracted driving? The only explanation is a deep-seated death wish, one that happens to snare a hapless motorcyclist now and then.

Exhibit A is––and yes, this is real––the Wheelmate Laptop Steering Wheel Desk. "Hook Wheelmate to your steering wheel," says the listing, "and you've got an instant ergonomic desk. Light enough to carry, but sturdy enough to support a notepad, lunch, or even a laptop."

While this product seems to be yet another depressing step in the downward spiral of civilization, there is some indication that people realize the Wheelmate is a bad idea. The reviews on its Amazon page also indicate a home-grown streak of sarcasm that runs deep enough to mine and export to other countries. A few examples:

Believe it or not, I'm typing this review on my laptop steering wheel desk! As a school bus driver I was never able to check my email and update Facebook while at work. Now I am networking more than ever! I am recommending this product to the school board later this month.

•_ You wouldn't believe how much more interesting my commute is now that I have something to do other than just stare out the window! I'm using it right now to post this review and I never_

But not all of the reviews are positive.

I read some 4 and 5 star reviews by those who used this device successfully to change a baby while driving. On that basis, I bought one. I put my baby on it and drove for over an hour. It did not change. Same baby.

• In several accidents that I have had whilst using this, the airbag causes the laptop screen to slam shut. I've suffered several broken fingers because of this.

It’s worth noting that the manufacturer says not to use the Wheelmate while driving. But the average American driver (motto: “You’re not the boss of me.”) is practically defined by the stubborn insistence on doing dumb things behind the wheel, as any motorcycle rider will swear to.