This topic is one that can never be discussed too much. It’s 2017, and I don’t think I know a single person who doesn’t have a cell phone. It’s the world we live in now. It’s great that our technology has come so far, and that we are capable of things that would have seemed impossible even 30 years ago. But with it comes an immense amount of tragedy.
I don’t know what it is about texting/messaging, but when we hear that “bwooOOp” indicating we’ve received a message, something inside our brains makes us want-no, need– to look at it right away. I am guilty of this as well. Maybe you have been talking to someone you have a crush on, and feel giddy knowing they said something to you at all, so it has to be the best literature you’ve ever read. Or maybe you are talking to a long time friend/family member about something funny that happened that day, so you just can’t wait to see what witty comment they had to say. I mean, when we get around these sorts of people, we all turn into comedians am I right? There are also so many apps and games that we waste our time on. We have truly lost sight of what’s important in life. Do people still talk to each other in car rides anymore? Do people still have conversations outside of a screen? The games and apps are fun, yes. But I think that a lot of people (myself included) have spent way too much time on them. We need to set a limit. Make a rule for yourself as to how much time you’ll allow yourself to be on this sort of entertainment. Make your relationships stronger. Not by a well-worded text message, but a face-to-face meaningful conversation.
Back to what I was saying… The fact is, people die. Plain and simple. This will not change unless we all make a conscious effort to wait to look at those oh-so-important messages until our car is stopped. Now that I have a son, this means so much more to me than ever. I couldn’t even imagine getting in a wreck due to the sheer lack of attention because of a cell phone. If I ever caused a wreck because I was looking at my phone and ended up hurting another person (possibly even killing them), it would haunt me for the rest of my life. If someone’s life was cut short because my pointless conversation was more important than paying attention to the road, that’s something I would never forgive myself for. It’s something no one deserves. At the same time, if someone else caused a wreck that injured myself or my son (or took one our lives)… That’s something I don’t even want to think about. To take someone’s child away in an instant, or a child’s mother or father, or sister or brother is unforgiving and preventable. Look at that picture. Someone’s small child could be right where that impact happened.
We all have lives, and we all use our cell phones. That isn’t going to change. But if we can all try to make an effort to only look at our phone while our vehicle is stopped, unnecessary deaths can be avoided. Wait until you are parked, or at a stop light (if it’s just a brief glance), or just wait until you reach your destination. If someone sent you a message, they have your number. If what they were contacting you about was an emergency, I would imagine they would call you. Your response can wait. They are most likely safe where they’re at and can wait for it.
We all think that we are better than the statistics, and we can text and drive while still paying attention. We’re wrong. What makes you think that the second you look at your phone, nothing random could happen to you? Animals run out in the street. Kids run out in the street for goodness sake. A car in front of you could stop abruptly. You could swerve into oncoming traffic. There are so many scenarios that could happen, and they do happen.
We as adults need to show the youth how important it is to pay attention to the road when we are driving. If your children see you texting and driving, why would they not? We have to lead by example. It is hard not looking at your phone when it goes off. It’s natural to look at it. If you have to put your phone on silent while you drive, then do that. If you have to give your phone to a passenger, do that. Whatever you feel you have to do in order to keep yourself from being sucked in to the magnetic pull these devices seem to have on us all, do it. There are grieving parents out there who will never be able to go back. I bet you they would do anything to have said that one last thing to their baby: “Don’t look at your phone while you’re driving. Come home safe.”
That is the reality of this whole thing. Innocent people (young and old) become permanently injured, or even lose their lives because of the incompetence of all of us who are guilty of thinking it’s not a big deal. I’m sure you can’t find one person who’s lost someone from texting and driving who will tell you it’s not a big deal.
We can’t stop these things from happening, but you can make sure you won’t be on one end of the statistics. The cause, and the dead.
No one should have to ever experience this kind of loss. It makes it unbearably worse to know it could have been prevented. My heart goes out to anyone grieving a loss of a loved one. No one deserves this. Pay attention, and be a safe driver. This is my family, and I’m pledging to stay off my phone while behind the wheel. I hope you do the same.