From a young age, we’re berated with speeches that drone on about what not to do when driving.
Don’t drink and drive.
Don’t drive recklessly.
Don’t drive distracted.
These rules float and remain lingering in the back of our minds during all hours, minutes and even seconds of the day. We’re practically dreaming (or having nightmares) about them in our sleep. After all, they were practically drilled in to our brains like a screw in hardware. But when it’s time to put them to the test, it may not be so simple.
By now, we’re all fully aware of the risks of this behavior. Between D.A.R.E., health classes, Grim Reaper Day and T.A.G., our entire environment is practically a real life Public Safety Announcement.
The statistics, although incredibly daunting, are not surprising. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 21 percent of fatal crashes involving teenagers (ages 15-19) were due to the use of cell phones.
When we were young children, we would never fathom the mere idea of walking into the street before looking both ways.
Yet, for some reason, despite our reputation of having “matured” throughout the years, we continue to put our safety on the line.
For some, there’s no experience like hearing the buzzing of a phone in the back of a car. With each slight vibration against the leather, the sound is amplified like music in a concert stadium.
Perhaps it can be compared to a child left in a car seat, crying out for attention. The constant notifications cause a visceral reaction within your body and soul. Your heart rate starts to increase, your mouth starts to taste like cotton and your hands become clammy against the steering wheel.
You don’t want to check on it. You need to check on it.
Or do you?
It’s perfectly logical to worry that, while driving, you might miss out. But honestly, how much really goes on during the span of a quick run to the supermarket to pick up milk for your parent? A girl in your grade changing her profile picture, yet again, to an edited photo from her summer vacation? Or perhaps a bulk email about your favorite store having a 20 percent off sale?
I must admit, I don’t think teenagers and their lack of good judgment are entirely to blame.
We’ve been receiving mixed messages.
How can we convince ourselves to resist this urge when we are constantly witnessing our parents, our role models, committing this heinous crime?
It’s a simple and sly maneuver. One hand remains on the wheel, and slowly, the other creeps into the cup holder to retrieve a resting phone. Suddenly, the phone illuminates, displaying the home page of your family’s purebred Pomeranian. Next thing you know, they’re reading and responding to texts and emails with their foot still pressed on the gas pedal.
The truth is, no matter who is behind the wheel, parent or child, texting while driving is blatantly, unnecessarily dangerous. Not only are you putting your own life and the lives of your passengers at stake, but also risking the lives of every other individual on the road.
If something is of such importance that it can’t wait, pull off to the side of the road (no, quickly taking a glance at your phone during a red light is not legal) and place the gear in park.
Then, and only then, should you hit that read button.