Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Shut up and Drive!

Don't text message while driving 80mph the wrong way down a street. Talking on your cell while driving is a bad idea. A study a few years ago indicated that for many drivers talking on a cell phone is as much an impairment as drinking is. I'm quite serious about this for two reasons: (1) I've done it and nearly killed someone (2) I've seen someone killed by it.

Years ago when I lived in Gig Harbor I was leaving work one evening, pulling out of the parking lot with a cell phone to my ear. I was going to make a right turn. I looked right and didn't see anyone, I looked left and watched a few cars pass and then planned to turn right. With my hand and phone up to the side of my face I was not able to see that a bicyclist had appeared to my right and as I pulled out he ran into the side of my car. Had he been a few feet further along I could have ran over him. He was alright and I apologized profusely. A couple months later I greeted a visitor at our church who looked familiar, I asked him where I might know him from and he recounted the story of the time I nearly hit him on his bike. It was quite embarrassing, but luckily he didn't hold it against the church community and became an active member there.

The second story doesn't end so well and I'll warn readers right now this is gruesome, but its a point that needs to be made. The most difficult case I ever encountered at my internship at Lutheran General hospital was an accident that took place on a Sunday afternoon. Walking along Dempster Ave a beautiful young family was enjoying a lovely summer day when a woman lost control of her vehicle while talking on her cell phone. Her car careened up onto the sidewalk hitting all three family members; the father had his leg broken in two places as well as broken ribs, the mother sustained a massive head injury putting her in a coma that resulted with weeks in intensive care, and their only son--a four year old-- was scissored in half (traumatic amputation) by the car and bled to death on the sidewalk. It was the most traumatic event I had ever encountered in my hospital ministry. No one ever deserves to have that happen to them.

Nicole and I have written before about how our experience with Evie reinvigorated our understanding of the fragility and the preciousness of life. I'll admit that occasionally I talk on the cell phone when stuck in traffic, but when you are at the wheel of a 2,000lbs weapon like an automobile, the driving task deserves total concentration. Better yet, pedestrians deserve your total concentration. Children on the sidewalk deserve to live. Shut up and drive.


Lefdawg said...

I completely agree with you on the whole driving and talking on the cell phone thing. One of my biggest hang ups that I can't stand about living in the Phoenix Metro area, are how BAD the drivers are here. I believe due to many of them driving and talking on their cell phones. I myself limit my time while driving and talking on the cell phone to only a minute or less or I call the person back when I am done driving.

But I can't believe you had to witness such a horrible accident! That would push me over the edge with the whole "NO DRIVING AND TALKING ON THE CELL" debate.

Otherwise I hope all is well with both of you...by the way I've asked Jared to try to grow a beard out...and well I'll have to take pictures. He definitely can't grow a luscious, attractive, manly beard like you Matt! Ha!

Quebecca said...

So I thought talking on cell phones w/o a headset was illegal in Chicago.