It is not like me to use "shock and awe" when writing a blog. I usually let my words speak for themselves. However, due to the seriousness of this topic, I have chosen to post a very graphic photo. If you are not comfortable with scenes of gore or are squeamish, please do not read any further. It is my hope that this image will jolt some people out of their stupor.
I just returned home from three-week road trip with my family. Three weeks on the road, in a 40 foot RV, high above the traffic, peering down into cars and across into semis. Three weeks of having my eyes forever opened to the problem of texting while driving.
Here is the bottom line people; we are sick. Seriously sick. How else can you explain such utter disregard for our lives?
I saw mothers texting with children in the backseat, crane operators and truck drivers, and perhaps in the most astonishing instance, a driver with a wide load on the highway. You know, the trucks that carry houses down the road? I saw truck drivers that had put cardboard over half their driver's side window so you couldn’t see them text. I saw a bus driver, responsible for others lives, texting. I saw women applying lipstick and texting. I saw people eating and texting. Drinking and texting. Watching their GPS and texting. It would seem we’re doing everything on the road except driving. And you know what? It scares the shit out of me.
When driving through Washington we counted 20 people in a ten minute period texting. Twenty! Driving a car is a dangerous enough endeavour to begin with. Now, though, you must also know how to navigate through a minefield. That is, in effect, what you’re doing every day you get on the highway with people who are texting. Don’t believe me? Check out this picture of a young man who was texting just seconds before he died. It’s graphic and I mean for you to be horrified.
That could be you. That could be me.
While I’m up here, I will give full disclosure from my pulpit. I’ve done it. I’ve texted while driving. Because somehow I convinced myself that I was a better driver than the Average Joe. That there was no way I would get in an accident. That I had my wits about me. What a great big steaming pile of poo that was. There is no way anyone can text and drive safely. You are eight times more likely to be in an accident while texting. That's four times more than if you were drunk. Risk of collision while talking on the phone increases by 400%. Drunk driving, while atrocious, doesn't hold a candle to this plague. I don't have hard stats, but my gut tells me it is way more prevalent than drunk driving ever was. You need only look at how many people now own a mobile phone. It's a numbers game.
Now it's your turn for disclosure. How many of you have texted while driving? How many of you justify that quick LOL or OMG as harmless? How many of you are willing to die for a tweet?
What do I want us to do? Let's get to the table and make this as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving or smoking. I want us to be loud. I want us to be obnoxious if necessary. Start calling people out. Not just strangers, but your friends, your family. Tell people you are taking a vow not to use a handheld device while driving. Tell your kids to take your phone while you're driving. When you're alone, put your phone in the trunk. Find an app that makes your phone safer. Your life, my life, our children’s lives, are too important not to.