Did you know 64% of car accidents involve cell phones? Each year, more than 2.5 million people are involved in car accidents and 1.6 million of those are due to someone operating a cell phone while driving. If you know me at all, you know I do NOT take the subject of texting and driving lightly. I’m pretty vocal about my feelings towards it.
I’m VERY vocal about my feelings towards it.
In fact, I once got a little too vocal about it on the way home from San Marcos. We’re talking friendships were at stake.
Basically, to make a long story short, my friend wouldn’t stop texting and driving (even though I had asked her nicely). So, I took action.
I yelled. She yelled back. I shouted texting and driving facts. She shouted, “I’M SHAZAM-ING A SONG!!!!!!!”
To be honest, I don’t know what I said to finally make her stop, but she did. However, this victory did not come without a price. We all felt EXTREMELY uncomfortable after this so the 6 of us sat in awkward silence for the rest of the car ride home.
I JUST WANT MY PEOPLE TO BE SAFE, OKAY? If “HEY, NO TEXTING AND DRIVING” comes out of my mouth, it’s because I care a great deal about you and don’t want anything happening to you.
I sent my friend this portion of the post (enough time has passed so it’s safe to joke about it now) and she responded, “The last 30 minutes of that drive were awful. I’m pretty sure no one thought we’d speak to each other ever again.”
Good times, good times.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. According to the National Safety Council,
“Thousands have died in car crashes involving cell phone use. New technology allows us to make phone calls, dictate texts or emails and update social media while driving – all actions that are proven to increase crash risk. The National Safety Council observes April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month to draw attention to this epidemic. NSC wants to empower you to put safety first and take back your drive.”
When I was a senior in high school, White Oak participated in Shattered Lives. This is an anti-drinking and driving campaign aimed at teaching high school students about the deadly effect drinking and driving can have on a person’s life.
The two-day program began with a real-life mock car accident and ended with a real-life mock funeral.
On the first day, the entire school gathered around the staged accident. We quietly watched the horrific scene unfold.
After the accident, the students returned to their classrooms and began going about their day.
Every 15 minutes, someone dies from an alcohol-related accident. To represent this statistic, a grim reaper slowly walks in and out of the classrooms and taps someone on the shoulder every 15 minutes. If you were tapped you packed up your things and left the classroom without saying a word.
The empty desk represented a devastating loss.
All who participated in Shattered Lives spent the night at the gymnasium across the street. We weren’t allowed to have our phones or be in contact with anyone for 24 hours.
We wore wristbands that had our birth and “death” dates written on them. Our parents/guardians wrote letters to us as if we were no longer with them and we read them that night. We had guest speakers (parent whose child was killed by a drunk driver, EMT’s, policemen, etc.) who openly discussed their personal experiences with us.
Every detail was carefully organized in a way that ensured the campaign looked and felt as realistic as possible. Why? Because this branded an image in the minds of onlookers, serving as a constant reminder that our decisions have consequences.
Although only about 100 students were directly involved with the campaign, everyone attended the scene of the accident and everyone attended the funeral. Everyone, in some way or another, was impacted during those 24 hours.
I cannot tell you everything that was said that night in the gym or during the mock funeral the next day, but there was one thing an EMT said to us that I’ve never forgotten: “You think you’re invincible. You think something like that could never happen to you, but it can. It does. It happens to people all the time.”
I’m sure you may be wondering what Shattered Lives has to do with Distracted Driving Awareness Month or what drinking and driving has to do with texting and driving.
Well, it has everything to do with it.
Shattered Lives may be an anti-drinking and driving campaign, but it opened my eyes to the harsh realization that one bad choice, one wrong decision, while driving can alter a person’s life forever. And that includes texting and driving.
The words spoken by that EMT have been imprinted on the back of my mind ever since. They’re the reason I take texting and driving so seriously.
In an article he wrote, Jacob Masters states, “Many say that [texting and driving] is actually more dangerous than drunk driving” and that “drivers who are texting while behind the wheel have a 23% higher chance of causing a crash. That is equivalent to downing four beers and then getting behind the wheel.”
According to this article in The Huffington Post, two (2) is the “number of seconds a driver can safely glance away from the road while operating a motor vehicle.” Five (5) is the “number of seconds drivers take their eyes off the road to send a text message, on average.”
All it takes is looking away from the road for more than 2 seconds. TWO SECONDS.
Let that sink in.
It is naive to think that something bad like that could never happen to us or someone we love. Because it most certainly can. And it does. It happens to people every single day.
No text, no phone call, no tweet, no Facebook status, no Snapchat is more important than a human life, whether it be yours or someone else’s.
It can wait.
I want to get home safely.
I want my family and friends to get home safely.
Don’t you, too?
Texting and driving is serious and it has life-threatening consequences.
Every time we enter our vehicle, we have a choice to make.
We have to think about our family and friends.
We have think about the people we share the road with.
They are children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, friends, husbands, and wives.
My friends and I always tell each other, “Text me when you make it home safely!” Sometimes we’ll accidentally forget to and will either send or receive a text saying, “Did you make it home?”
Your friends and family want you to make it home safely, and so do the friends and family of the people you share the road with.
“Friends don’t let friends drink and drive” and they don’t let them text and drive either.
We have to stop texting and driving.
Because we are not invincible.
Share this with your family and friends, talk to them about the importance of safe driving.
No more phone calls, no more texts, no more tweets, no more Facebook status updates, no more SnapChats until we are off the road and home safe and sound!