Don’t be driven to distraction

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“Honk if you love Jesus. Text while driving if you want to meet Him.” – Church sign.

A car is a great way to get from point A to point B. A car operated while you are distracted by your cellular telephone is a weapon that may steal you — or someone else — from the people they love and impact an entire community.

Personal

From what I am told, he did everything right. He walked every day because staying fit is so important for health and longevity. He wore a green reflective vest while doing so because being visible to drivers is so important for health and longevity, too.

We are told that when he saw the car coming, he dutifully stepped into the ditch in order to allow ample room for the vehicle to pass. We all know that despite the fact that pedestrians do have the “right of way,” they are wise to be ever alert. So he was. The driver, however, was not.

We are told she was typing a text message on her cellular phone and, thus distracted, didn’t realize that she’d hit him until she felt the impact and realized that she had driven over something, or someone. I’m sure that moment was a nightmare for her. Nightmare, however, would not even begin to describe the experience for his family. For them it just goes on and on.

Distracted

U.S. Government officials estimate that nearly 6,000 people were killed as a result of “distracted driving” last year. Six. Thousand. People. 6,000 is a senseless tragedy. One is a senseless tragedy too. One person. One life. Far more than one loss.

Any death impacts a family. An unexpected and tragic death, far too young, ripples through a family, a community and entire generations. So we were, on a muggy summer evening, filing slowly through the funeral home wishing fervently we didn’t have to be there because we wanted so much for our friends — his family — not to have to be there.

There in the displays that attempt to encapsulate a life into the moments — and memories — that matter, was a framed map of the Appalachian Trail. He was planning to hike it, his daughter said, a measure of pride in her voice. It had long been a dream and he had the map framed where it hung by the door at their home as a daily reminder. He had plans, dreams, and goals.

The driver, however, had a text to send and so his life was ended. This was not a number or a statistic. This was somebody’s husband, father, “pap,” and best friend. His life taken not only from him, but from all who loved him, in an instant because someone had something “really important to do” like drive, but chose to use a phone instead.

I would venture to guess that before this, the driver would have sworn that she was capable of texting while driving. I can’t fathom that someone would KNOW how stupid it was and do it anyway?

Yet, before we point fingers too long and hard, we should look in a mirror, because millions of drivers do it every day. Many of us think of driving as a good time to catch up on messages and calls. It’s so tempting to think we can manage several different activities at once.

As it turns out, your car is not your office or living room, and we really aren’t all that talented. There is no telephone call or text worth a life — or a lifetime of guilt if you take one.

Prevention

Currently, 28 states ban texting while driving. All states ban drunk driving. The American public correctly views drinking and driving as wrong. When it comes to texting and driving, we are not as outraged, but we should be. Preventable accidents are not accidents. They are willful negligence.

Today millions of drivers will reach for their phones while driving. They are making the decision at that moment that their messages are more important than their lives. Worse, they are making the decision that their messages are more important than YOUR life, and those of the people you love, too.

If 6,000 people died in airline incidents in one year we would be outraged. When 6,000 people die because we don’t take driving seriously, we should be outraged. Texting is killing people. Let me rephrase that: texters are killing people. If you text while driving you are making a DECISION to risk the lives of others as surely as if you were driving while balancing your gin and tonic on the steering wheel.

It’s senseless, stupid, and easily preventable. Fortunately, the “cure” for this tragedy is easily within reach: please just hang up and drive.

Kymberly Foster Seabolt loves texting – but never while driving. She welcomes comments c/o LifeOutLoud@comcast.net; P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio; and http://www.KymberlyFosterSeabolt.com

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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