“I trust you, just not the other drivers on the road.”
Even though I got my license about 106 years ago, after failing the permit test once don’t judge me, my dad’s words are still bouncing around in my brain. Since the day my fat head was printed on a little plastic card, my parents have had confidence that I would be smart and safe while driving, but everyone else behind the wheel? Not so much.
Who in their right mind wouldn’t be careful when driving a potential weapon? I used to wonder. And then I had kids.
Raise your hand if a child’s shoe has ever bounced off the dashboard while you’re speeding along at 55 mph. No? Just me? I love my kiddos, but they have morphed me into the “other” driver that my parents feared. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I sometimes drive under the influence. The influence of distraction.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), of the nearly 33,000 roadway fatalities in 2012, there were 3,328 fatalities and approximately 421,000 injuries in distracted driving-related crashes.
You guys, I could have been one of those fatalities or injuries. Swapping out a Justin Timberlake CD for the Frozen soundtrack, reaching behind my seat to retrieve Dot (my daughter’s precious blanket), or checking out the chaos in the rear view mirror distract me every time we’re in the car. I used to think I was just multi-tasking, driving and parenting simultaneously, but dude, no. It’s not safe and I’m wrong. Not only am I putting everyone in my car at risk, I’m putting anyone who is on the road with me at risk.
So maybe you don’t have kids kicking the back of your seat, screaming that a sibling is pulling her hair. Well pin a rose on your nose. That still doesn’t mean you’ve never taken a mental walk while behind the wheel; we all fall victim to our own distractions. From the scenarios below, tell me, which driver are you:
The music is up, windows are down, and the sirens behind you are completely drowned out by your off-key singing.
Make-up: check! Nothing in your teeth: check! Hair just so: check! You’re more worried about how you look in the car than actually driving it.
Work is crazy busy and super stressful, and your drive home is anything but relaxing. Between heavy traffic and that project that’s consuming your thoughts, you barely remember the last five miles of your trip.
Hey, look! A bird!
Must send this last text message…
I’m guilty, too, man. But we’ve all got to be safer. I’m not trying to tell you what to do, but since the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons—the specialists who put bones and limbs back together after road crashes and traumas—are feverishly sharing the message, “decide to drive,” that must mean too many of us have been Humpty-Dumptied: put back together again.
You may be popping your collar like my car is so advanced it can basically prevent an accident: back-up cameras, forward-facing sensors, brakes that stop the car when you don’t. Yeah, those are all helpful, but the most advanced safety feature of any vehicle is the you, the driver. The AAOS and the Auto Alliance are urging us to keep our most sophisticated safety features engaged at all times: eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Pull off if you need to text or make a call; ignore your passengers’ repeated requests for juice (we’re in the car, kids, not the kitchen…); clear your mind before turning the ignition. And remember: distracted driving doesn’t cause accidents; it causes crashes. You’re in control of you.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.