Thursday, May 19, 2011

I Don't Want Anyone to Die Because of Me

20/20 scared the bejeezus out of me with their episode on Distracted Driving (it's toward the end of the episode). I've been feeling a little cocky about all of this Distracted Driving business because I don't text and drive (most of the time). But, it turns out, there's not a darn thing to hang your hat on about that. The simple fact of having a telephone conversation while driving - hands-free or not - is diverting the brain power you need to pay attention. And, then there's the eating... the makeup application... the radio adjustments... the car's navigation controls... the childcare...

5,500 people were killed in 2009 because of distracted drivers. 448,000 were injured.

Y'all? That's a lot. Yeah, yeah. Statistically speaking, it's probably not a very impressive number. But, if you think that each one of them didn't. have. to. happen, it's a little more shocking.

Like the Drunk Driving campaigns of the 80s and 90s, it going to have to be peer pressure that gets us to change our behaviors. That's why the organization FocusDriven has been founded. Go ahead. Poke around their website. Let your heart break over the biographies of their Board of Directors. Let your heart sink over the "Ripple Effect" map that shows victims from each state. And let your stomach knot as you realize just how distracted all those phone conversations have made you over the years.
But, just in case "safe driving" wasn't enough to convince me, I considered who my most common passengers are. I owe it to my kids to focus. They are far more important to me than that next telephone conversation. For that matter, your kids, in the car next to me, are more important than that call. Your mother is more important... Your husband... Your best friend... And, until lately, I've been hurtling 2 tons of machine down the road at them with half of my brain power.

Will you join me? Put your phone out of reach the moment you get in the car. Believe me, it is a hard habit to break. But, if we don't start, who will?


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