I confess: I used to make the choice to drive while distracted. Every time we get behind the wheel, we have a choice: the wise one to focus on the serious responsibility of operating a motor vehicle or the hazardous one to use the “down time” of driving doing other things. The worst part is that we all depend on the other drivers to make the wise choice—conscious or not.
The consequences of our choices can be life-ending or lifelong. It should not take a devastating tragedy, which so many people have experienced when a loved one was killed because of distracted driving, that could have been prevented by the simple choice of not driving while distracted. We need not wait for our state and local elected representatives to make distracted driving illegal; each of us can immediately make the safe choice and eliminate distracted driving for ourselves and the drivers in our families.
Imagine you are driving to work, and you get a phone call on your mobile phone. You reach for your phone and look to see who is calling. At your speed of 30 miles an hour, during the five seconds it took you to reach down, find your phone, pick it up, and read the display, you traveled 220 feet. As a result of your choice just to see who is calling, you quite likely missed the car turning in front of you, the pedestrian crossing at the intersection, or the cyclist riding just outside the white line with traffic.
In an instant you crash into them, and the other person may die or be severely injured — and your life will never be the same. If you also took the time to read a text or email or have a conversation, then the five seconds of distraction has doubled or tripled and exposed you and your fellow travelers to an exponential risk of life-changing (or life-ending) consequences.
Now imagine you are Joel Feldman, who lost his daughter, Casey, because of someone’s reckless choice. Casey was only 21 years old when she was struck by a distracted motorist during daylight hours while walking in a crosswalk on her way to her summer job. She would have been a senior in college. After experiencing the worst loss imaginable, Mr. Feldman has embarked on a national campaign to “End Distracted Driving” with the hope to prevent this needless tragedy from happening to your child.
Until technology allows us to have self-driving vehicles with proven safety records, we should choose to be responsible for anyone who is out for a walk or a bicycle ride or just traveling home from school or work. Although we cannot eliminate every risk in operating or encountering motor vehicles, we can prevent more injuries and deaths by choosing to end distracted driving.
Now is the time for all of us to make the wise choice. We can choose to drive distractedly and be a hazard to ourselves and others, or we can make the wise choice. As responsible citizens, we each should make the commitment to ourselves, our family, and our neighbors: End Distracted Driving.