In the past, Julie has written about Keith, our son’s best friend in the Air Force. He was tragically killed in an automobile accident while home on leave two years ago. Keith was an extremely nice, likable young man who was always polite and laughing the few times we met him. Mac had planned on running in a marathon with him and actually completed the Air Force Marathon in his honor the following September.
Recently, Ohio passed a texting and driving law. (http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2012/06/02/ohio-outlaws-texting-while-driving.html) Imagine our surprise while reading the article to discover that Keith was mentioned by name as one of the reasons for passing this bill. It really drove home the dangers of distracted driving.
In my opinion, this was a wonderful law that is long overdue. I did, however, have one problem with it: the bill does not enforce the ban for people over the age of 18.
I run three to four days per week. While running I have to continually be on the lookout for cars and other dangers. Thank God I pay attention. At least once per week, I have to quickly get into a ditch off the side of the road due to distracted drivers. The number of times in the past two weeks a person under 18 has been driving? 0. The number of times that a person over 18 has been driving? 3. I know this because as they swerve by, I see them looking down and often see their children in the back seat.
Really? Is it that important to get the text read or sent right then? Not only am I in danger, but their own kids are as well. Have we become so selfish that we need to risk other lives to communicate? It was not even 15 years ago that we were able to go to the store or on a date without needing to text or make a phone call. Now we do it while we drive?
People can say that kids are wrong for texting while driving, at school, at a restaurant, church, etc. But what are we showing them? I see more adults doing the same thing. It is amazing the number of times I have been driving down the street or highway and notice the cars swerving next to me or in front of me. I have seen grown women, bending over intheir seats to retrieve something while almost side -wiping a semi. I have seen near collisions and avoided others, only to see the person speeding off and texting or doing something that causes them to keep their eyes from the road.
I am not a saint. I admit that I have texted and talked on the phone while driving. It is a hard habit to break. I need to continually remind myself that whatever it is, it can wait. I often find myself handing the phone to my daughter while in the car. That way she can answer it or make a call if needed. Hopefully she is also seeing that there is nothing so important that it cannot wait until we get where we are going.
Put the phone down, enjoy the scenery and don’t drive distracted. It is not only your life you are placing on the line but also your kids' and complete strangers' as well.