Monday, June 16, 2014

Don't test fate, that text can wait.

I can remember it vividly, almost as if it were yesterday.
My first real brush with death.
A close family member, even.
Why can’t he just wake up momma? He’s breathing, look.
I could not seem to wrap my sixteen year old brain around the truth.
I felt so weak and helpless, a tiny bird, suffocating inside.
As if I was a small child, still naïve and ignorant to the realities of life.
Don't test fate, that text can wait.
Ironically enough, his seat belt did the opposite of save him.
Even today I fail to understand. Nor will I ever.
Hard to believe it’s been six years, when will it ever sink in?
Grief on his birthday, anniversary of passing, mother’s day.
Kills me more than anything when the young go before there time.
He still had a whole lot of living left to do.
RIP Michael James
My cousin Michael and I, cruising at an early age.
We see it every day: Drivers swerving in their lanes, stopping at green lights, running reds, or narrowly missing a pedestrian because they have their eyes and minds on something other then the road. How often have you driven on auto pilot, just going through the familiar motions, but your brain is elsewhere?

Distracted driving is an issue that is sweeping our country, claiming lives and destroying families.
It is a conscious decision, of which we are all guilty at one time or another. A decision to make a phone call, send or read a text, put on makeup, eat that McDonald's.
This is a topic near and dear to my heart as I lost my closest cousin when he was just 17. He was texting and failed to notice the sharp turn sign. The rest is history.

If distracted driving is so dangerous, why do we continue to do it? As humans we tend to be natural born multi taskers and in a world of smart phones and GPS it is so easy to not give driving your full attention. We all lead busy, stressful lives and tend to take shortcuts and easy ways out. Some people still believe that the statistics don't apply to them, that they can defy the odds. But that is just crazy talk. The devastating reality is these tragedies affect people without discrimination. I've lived it.

The thoughts running through our minds...
I’m the only one on this road.
I’m close to home.
It’ll just take me a second to respond.
It will never happen to me.

In college, when I would travel the two hours back for a weekend at home, I would be exhausted after a long week of classes and struggle to focus on the road and stay alert. I would roll the windows down and blast the tunes to keep me awake.

Texting is a visual, manual, and cognitive distraction while you take your eyes off the road, hand off the wheel, and mind off driving. 19 states have banned texting while driving. In Ohio All drivers younger than under 18 are banned from using cellphones while behind the wheel, and all drivers, regardless of age, are banned from texting.
Distracted driving is no accident. Crashes are caused by intoxicated, speeding, distracted, or careless drivers and, therefore, are not accidents.

Make your car a no phone zone!

1. Keep your cell phone out of reach while in your car. Put it in the back seat or your glove compartment. Or better yet, turn it off. Remove the temptation.
2. Take care of anything you need to do before you start driving, including programming your GPS, seat and mirror adjustments, last minute phone calls and texts, getting your sunnies out.
3. If you must take/make a call, find a safe place to pull over for the conversation or ask a passenger to hold and answer your phone
4. Don’t play your music so loudly that you can’t hear what’s going on around you, such as emergency sirens.
5. Skip the food and drink. Spilled food or hot coffee takes your attention off the road.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Auto Alliance want to increase awareness about the risks of distracted driving. Not to get gruesome on you guys, but surgeons would rather keep your bones strong than put them back together again. The "Decide to Drive" campaign aims to empower drivers and passengers to speak up about distracted driving.

Remember, we as drivers, are the most intelligent and advanced safety feature when we are behind the wheel. Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel. Park that phone, before you drive.
That text, those few seconds, was it worth it? Let's take back the roads together.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


Caro @ The Caro Diaries said...

Wait ahhh, does this mean you won?! I'm sorry about your loss.. it's truly the worst: such a silly thing as a text can cause massive heartbreak.

xo caro

Amy Fashion Blog said...

So sorry for you lost. I keep my phone on my purse when I'm driving. My husband and I don't have food in the car unless we are going on a long trip.

Lex said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the reminder. I hope everyone sees this blog post today!

Jenn @ hellorigby! said...

such a good reminder! i too frequently try to multi task while driving and it's really not a good idea. i'm definitely going to think about this post the next time i go to grab my phone while driving, and so sorry to hear about the loss of your cousin. :(

Caroline said...

Devastating. I've made it a point to never text/talk and drive and it's great to see others doing the same.

Kayla MKOY said...

I'm the first to admit I use my phone too often behind the wheel -- luckily my phone has a speech-to-text function so that limits the distractions but STILL.... I need to be better about it. It's so scary how fast things can change on the road.

I'm so sorry about your cousin :/ thats awful.

I once fell asleep at the wheel and luckily only scraped a mailbox, knocking my passenger mirror off. I'm so thankful thats all it was!

NenaS said...

It's horrible that so many people are seriously injured or killed over texting! I know so many people who still do it and it's scary! Not only are they endangering themselves but everyone else on the road, too. My son's friend found about texting and driving the hard way when he was only 16, he hit a hydro pole and he's now a quadriplegic!

Julia Flaherty said...

I hope that a lot of people have read this blog post. Your message is so important! Good work.

mmstarla said...

This is such a well written post, Shane. I am so sorry for your loss... I sometimes wish cell phones wouldn't even work while the car is on but that might create more problems. I guess it depends on the scenario, but nontheless.. this is a complete death trap. :(