Yesterday I was driving a car full of boys to soccer practice and I noticed a car to my right. It was swerving. My instinct was to get as far away from it as possible. As I was passing by to pull out in front I happened to glance inside the other car. The driver was probably around 20 years old and he was clearly looking down at his cell phone while driving. A million thoughts went through my head. I was happy he wasn’t my child, because I would have strangled him. But I also realized that he could have been my child. One swerve to the left and our lives could have been forever changed.
This morning I went for my usual run. It’s finally spring-like here and it feels wonderful to be outside. My Vitamin D deficiency is very happy. As I was running in the street, ear buds in, I noticed a car coming towards me. I run on the opposite side of traffic so I can easily see cars approaching. Usually a driver will spot me and get out of my way. This car was coming closer and closer and driving almost on top of the curb where I was running. I was forced to jump out of the way. You guessed it, the driver was on his cell phone.
When my oldest got a cell phone we had him sign a contract. It was a pretty simple and standard cell phone contract- no texting during meals, keep your phone charged, know where it is, and keep your cell phone out of your bedroom while you’re sleeping. There was more to it, but it was something along those lines. We don’t have to deal with the driving piece yet, but soon enough. And I’m scared.
Everyone’s on a cell phone when they’re driving. It’s not just teens. OK maybe not everyone, but the next time you’re driving take a look to the right and the left (maybe take a look in your very own car) and let me know what you find.
I’m hardly innocent. I’m on the phone a lot. My job requires it. My car has become my auxiliary office.
Driving While Using a Cell Phone Stats
But do I really need to be on the phone when I’m driving my car? Especially with statistics like these:
- Drivers talking on a cell phone are 4 times more likely to have a car accident.
- The number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes decreased slightly from 3,360 in 2011 to 3,328 in 2012.
- Headset cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use.
- Texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an auto crash than driving when intoxicated.
My oldest isn’t far away from getting his drivers license We have a few years to go, but nonetheless observing the number of people (not just kids) on their phones while driving has caused me to pause.
Maybe adults should be signing a cell phone contract much like the one I had my son sign. I know that signing a contract won’t do much good. So what do we do? What will it take to create awareness around this issue? I’m afraid the answer might be something happening that directly affects each of us.
I’ve given it some thought and here’s what I’m going to work on:
- All electronic devices will be out of reach before starting to drive.
- I will be a good role model for my kids and other kids who are in my car.
- When I’m a passenger I’m going to speak up if the driver uses an electronic device while driving. Offer to make the call for the driver.
How do you handle cell phone use while you’re driving?