Lately, I have been noticing more distracted drivers on the road. I am also hearing more stories about cyclists getting hit and crashes being caused by distracted drivers. None of these drivers thought their “distraction” was going to change or end someone’s life. Here are a few of them:
I could keep posting hundreds of articles. So, after long consideration, seeing tons of stories about people (mostly cyclists) getting hit by distracted drivers, and having my oldest child now driving, I have made the decision to not use my cell phone at all while driving, hands free or not.
Being a firefighter and driving a fire engine for a living, I see first-hand how distracted people are when they drive. Between texting, talking, dialing, checking email, Facebook, GPS, or a host of many other things, it seems we are focused on everything but driving.
I will also not talk to anyone else while they are on their phones while driving. Even if they try to justify it, I won’t be a contributor to unsafe driving. It’s just not worth the risk and nobody can convince me that we are safe drivers while doing it. To continue would be hypocritical of me.
Oh, I’ve heard all the justifications. I have even said a few of them myself.
“I’m only looking down for a second.”
“I only check email at a red light.”
“I’m a good multi-tasker.”
“I don’t have time to do these things later.”
“It’s just a quick call.”
“Blue tooth is legal, it’s fine.”
Do any of those excuses sound familiar?
I am old enough to remember driving before cell phones. First came the bag phone. Then came the mounted phone in the car. Later came the flip and finally the smart phone.
I wonder if any of the cell phone manufacturers realized that, when they created their products, people would be using them the way they do and that they would cause such a distraction that people would actually die as a result.
I had a cousin that was killed at age 19 by a drunk driver. The driver crossed the center line and hit my cousin and his friends head on. Everyone involved died in the crash. This type of incident happens now not only because of drunk drivers, but also due to distracted drivers.
I saw on We Save Lives that The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a survey in 2011 and I thought some parts of it were interesting. Considering this was several years ago, think about how much cell phone use has gone up since then.
Most drivers will answer a call while driving and most will continue to drive after answering. About 2 out of 10 drivers (18%) report that they have sent text messages or e-mails while driving; about half (49%) of those 21 to 24 years old report doing so. More than half believe that using a cell phone and or sending a text message/e-mail makes no difference on their driving performance, yet as passengers, 90% said they would feel very unsafe if their driver was talking on a handheld cell phone or texting/e-mailing while traveling with them.
Overall, most drivers report that driving becomes more dangerous when they take their eyes off the road for more than 2 seconds, and this is related to age. About one-third of drivers 18 to 24 years old said they can take their eyes off the road for 3 to 10 seconds or more before driving becomes significantly more dangerous.
What?!?! Three-to-ten seconds before it becomes more dangerous?!?! Let’s try that out: Pretend you’re driving the car down the road going 40 miles per hour. Ready? Ok, look down. "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10". It would be insane to think that is not dangerous.
I have also stopped using the word “accident” to describe certain situations. I saw on the We Save Lives site that an accident is something that cannot be reasonably foreseen or predicted and cannot be avoided. It just happens. A crash, on the other hand, is the result of choices made and risks disregarded. Most distractions while driving are by choice and are avoidable. Using a cell phone is a choice and a "crash" caused by one is not an “accident”
I am making a decision to try to be a safer and more responsible driver. Not only for me, but for everyone on the road. I am pledging to make this choice for the cyclist riding along and their friends and families that care about them. I am making this choice for everyone who travels in the car with me.
I am making this choice for my kids and to be the example that they hopefully will model when they become drivers. If I tell them not to use their phone when driving but they see me use mine, why would I think they wouldn’t use theirs? The truth is, they will follow our example, not just our words.
So who is with me? Who is willing to pull over to make that “important” call? Who is willing to put the phone in the glove compartment while driving? Who is willing to ask someone if they are driving and politely say to call you back when they aren’t? Who is willing to put safety ahead of convenience?
I am making the choice to not use my cell phone while driving or talk to anyone while they are driving. I hope you make that choice with me. Let’s make things safer together.
Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
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Steve DeLuca is a 13-year, stage 3 colon cancer survivor, acoustic neuroma brain tumor survivor, 22-time marathon finisher, 2007 Ironman Wisconsin finisher, happily married father of 4, and a follower of Jesus. Not all in that order.
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