This morning I almost got T-Boned by a lady in a car much larger than mine. I was second in line at a 3 way-intersection where my side had a green light. She was going down the straightaway coming off of a major route and her light was red. I and the driver in front of me saw her barreling down the road with no hints of slowing and we both laid on our horns. She looked up from what she was doing – TEXTING ON HER PHONE – with just enough time to stomp on her brakes and jerk her steering wheel to the left towards the median, and burning a lot of rubber and smoke. She just barely missed hitting the car stopped opposite her by about 3-4 inches and by some grace of a higher being, her car ended up positioned in the center of a three car triangle (mine being one of the points of the triangle) without damage to anyone. If she hadn’t been so lucky in missing our cars, the outcome would likely have been tragic.
I looked over at her and noticed that there were two kids in her car – one was probably about 4 and the other was a few years older. She regained composure and drove away and in hindsight, I wish I had thought to snap a pic of her license plate to take to the police. The only thing that I was thinking at the time was, “How could she be so irresponsible as to be texting with kids in the car?” It didn’t occur to me until later that if she had hit me with my kids in the car (thankfully, the kids were not with me), my family might not have survived that accident.
How many times have you been driving and noticed the car in front of you driving erratically; veering into the shoulder or onto the median, or driving with inconsistent speed? How many times have you caught a glance of the driver through the window or mirror and realized that they’re looking at their phones? I’ve seen it around here more than a few times.
In the UK, a public service campaign was launched to show the dangers of texting and driving (it never ran in the US but gained viral fame when aired on the Today Show). A short trailer of their video is shown here (warning: graphic content):
Here in Fairfield County, a young teenage driver killed a jogger running in the shoulder of the road last March – the section of road where she hit him was wide and fairly well visible. Forensic analysis showed that she had accessed her school’s website from her smartphone at the time of the accident.
Still not convinced? Here are some statistics in the US on texting and driving:
I was never much of a phone person to begin with. I hate talking to people who are calling from cellphones, rarely call anyone from my phone, and never pair my phone with my vehicle’s Bluetooth. In my opinion, nothing is so critical that it requires me to call while I’m driving and certainly NOTHING is so important that it requires me to text or read email while driving. I made a commitment to myself when my kids were born to never ever pick up my phone while driving. I always put my pocketbook on the floor behind the passenger seat so that I can’t reach my phone, and on the rare occasion that I’ve had to reach someone, I am forced to pull over. Nothing is worth endangering the lives of my or someone else’s family. I only wish other people would be so conscientious because it only takes one second to change someone’s life forever.
It’s hard enough to drive with young kids in the car because they demand a lot of your attention. Make the commitment now to never drive distracted by your phone. Turn off your phone while driving. Reduce temptation by putting your phone in a place where you can’t reach it. If you commit to this, you are not only making a difference for your family but also for those who you might affect if you were to have an accident.