I’m okay with rainstorms, even downpours where the wipers can’t keep up with the torrents of water on the windshield. Blizzards don’t even really phase me anymore. It’s the cloudy days that do me in. Those are the days I grip the steering wheel until my knuckles turn white and every oncoming car is a threat. Loud noises cause adrenalin to course through my veins and I shush my kids more often than usual.
It was an overcast day when my family was hit head on by a drunk driver while on our way to my mother-in-laws to celebrate Mother’s Day. In the grand scheme of things we were okay, no 'catastrophic injuries' as the insurance companies like to put it. But there are ripples from the aftermath of the collision–my son’s fear of driving and back and neck injuries that keep cropping up.
Summer is almost upon us and with it comes long weekends and vacations. For many of us, this means more hours on the highway as we head to our cottage or vacation destination. And with cottages, backyard bbq’s and warm evenings relaxing on a patio there’s many more opportunities to drink.
Or maybe drinking isn’t involved at all. Maybe you want to make the most of your four hour drive to the cottage so you grab your cell phone and start talking and texting your friends. Or you want to change the CD and your eyes leave the road for just a few seconds while you rummage around for Bruno Mars. It could be that your kids finished their movie and want to watch another but the next exit is miles away so you attempt the disc switch while on the highway.
We are a distracted society. We’re still driving while we’re distracted. We’re still drinking and climbing into our cars thinking we have it under control. Unbelievably, there are are parents who are moving their kids up to booster seats when those children aren’t the proper age and weight for that restraint and/or not using a booster seat at all. And many of us are still driving well beyond the speed limits posted.
Those families who have lost loved ones because someone else chose to drink and drive or not pay attention while on the road, those families will never be the same. From this point forward, life for them will be known as before the accident and after the accident.
If you cause an accident because you were drinking or distracted or not obeying the laws, if your child is hurt because they weren't restrained properly, this will hold true for you as well.
So I’m here today to ask that this summer when you’re out on the road to pay attention. Don’t drive while you’re distracted. Don’t drive while you’re drinking. Pay attention to the speed limits, they aren’t just a guideline. And always, always, always make sure everyone in your vehicle is properly secured in restraints that are appropriate for that person’s age and size.
Having a safe summer isn't up to everyone else, it's up to you.