By: Erin Rose Hennessy
I am going to try my hardest to stay off my soapbox tonight, but I have a very important issue I want to write about.
How many of you have used your cell phone while driving? Eaten while driving? Dug through your wallet while driving? If you’re like most of the population, you have done these things.
Those of you who read my Facebook posts will know that I was almost run down by not one but two distracted drivers on Sunday morning. I was running errands in the local shops and was crossing a very busy intersection. I had the green light and the white walk signal, but that didn’t stop a car turning from my left. Completely oblivious to me, they began to turn until I yelled out and waved my hands wildly. I was so busy stopping one car from hitting me that I didn’t even see the other one turning from the opposite direction until it almost nailed me as it turned in front of me. Both of these drivers were distracted, either by their cell phones or by others in the car with them.
And it’s not the first time this has happened to me, either. I’m a pedestrian, usually, so I walk or bike everywhere. Once I even had a two-year-old toddler with me in a stroller. Did that stop someone from nearly mowing us down? Nope. We’re taught that pedestrians have the right of way in a crosswalk, but I still feel like I’m walking into a battle zone sometimes. Because when a flesh and bone human comes up against several hundred pounds of steel – yeah the car is going to win.
This happens everywhere. People who were texting while driving, distracted by other passengers, eating, or not keeping their eyes on the road at all times have caused serious and fatal accidents. One poor girl in Florida was trapped and died inside her school bus because of an inattentive truck driver.
There is a series of YouTube videos going around called “Faces of Distracted Driving”. The horrible, tragic stories of family members and friends who have lost a loved one simply because someone couldn’t wait until their destination to send a text. I’ve taken it upon myself, with everyone that I drive with, to be their designated distraction person. If they need to make a call, answer a text, or check their GPS, I will do it. If they need something from their purse, I will get it. If they need a bite of their hamburger, I will unwrap it for them so all they have to do is take a bite. I’ve always been my family’s navigator on road trips, so this job comes pretty naturally to me anyway. So, if you know me and you ever drive with me, please know I am happy to do anything you need so that you can keep your eyes on the road. So you can get me, yourself, and the others in the car safely to our destination.
The moral of this blog post is pretty obvious. Be focused and aware while driving and please, please, please. Put. Down. That. Cell. Phone. If the text or call can’t wait until your destination, find a safe place to pull over and then use your phone. Someone’s life may depend on it.