Techno drivingThink about this. You might be killed by a distracted driver. The chances of that happening are increasing daily.
By: Kevin Holten, The Dickinson Press
Think about this. You might be killed by a distracted driver. The chances of that happening are increasing daily. There is more traffic, more freeways, more cell phones, more distractions and more accidents.
The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis determined that over 330,000 people are injured each year as a result of using cell phones while driving. That’s over three Pasadena Rose Bowls full of people going to the hospital just because of a cell phone. Since over 73 percent of us overuse the little contraption while we’re behind the wheel, it shouldn’t be a surprising statistic.
I think it’s gotten to the point where we might want to start another MADD organization: Mothers Against Distracted Drivers. Because if you’ve witnessed a traffic calamity lately, you know it’s not a pretty sight.
A year ago I was driving in the fast lane of a sparsely occupied Los Angeles freeway on a sunny Saturday morning when a white car passed me like a meteor from space. It immediately rammed into the back end of a green sedan driven by an elderly male and sent it into an eye popping spin. Only a phenomenal act of physics, understood by Al Einstein and his buddies, kept that thing from rolling over countless times and me from running into it.
Meanwhile the white meteor soared on with nary a pause as though it were a bumper car being driven by a 9 year old at a local carnival. I lost sight of it as I tried to ascertain the fate of the old man, who I thought, even though he’d survived the accident, might still succumb to a heart attack, stroke or the advancing stages of shock.
The absurdity of the event was magnified by the emptiness of the freeway. You could have easily maneuvered three buses, two tractor trailers and a crane around each side of the green sedan and still had room for a VW Bug.
Nevertheless, the white meteor zeroed in on the green sedan’s rear end as though it were equipped with a homing device and plowed through it like a bunker bashing bomb going through 20 feet of concrete. This led me to conclude that its driver was focused on everything other than piloting an automobile.
Miles later I noticed the same white meteor slipping onto the freeway again from an on ramp at a much more conservative speed and I sped ahead of it to look for dents and green paint streaks that would confirm its guilt. A young female driver, with fear in her eyes, looked at me as though she knew that I knew and I memorized her license plate number, with the smell of burnt rubber still fresh in my mind, thinking I’d call the Highway Patrol later, which I did, but they didn’t answer and I’m glad.
Now I can’t be sure if she was distracted by an incoming call, a text message, a French fry that’d dropped to the floorboard or was suffering from total blindness but I think we can rule out the later.
And I prefer not take a “holier than thou” view since both you and I can admit to close calls resulting from our own attempts at behind-the-wheel text messaging. Only dumb luck has kept me from having to live with the same guilt that this young girl must still harbor, with she having failed to wait around to determine the final outcome of her mistake.
So maybe we need to do more about that which could destroy your life, my life and our children’s lives. I don’t mean pass laws, levy fines and hang the perpetrators. I mean quit using our cell phones while driving because, there’s no call or message that’s more important than any of our lives.
— Dickinson resident Holten is the Dickinson State University
Foundation communications coordinator.