Friday, August 9, 2013

texting and driving don't mix

image from YouTube
When we first arrived in the States over 7 years ago, I was really taken aback by the number of people talking on cell phones while driving. Having come from a country where this was illegal, it really angered me to see people distracted while behind the wheel. Since that time, texting while driving has become popular, more prevalent and such a preventable danger. 

It is obvious when people do it. I have seen cars swerve across lanes. I have seen drivers clearly not watch the road as they look into their device. I am livid at such blatant disregard, disrespect and pure selfishness. I have a couple of friends who actively yell at or visually chastise other drivers they witness texting (including a police officer!). I applaud their bravery and fortitude - and hope that their actions have helped prevent accidents. 

Texting while driving has been recently been made a primary offense in the state of Virginia. It is difficult to see how this law will be enforced given that talking on a cell phone while driving is not illegal. 

I am so glad to see some recent high profile traction on this issue. This is something we MUST educate our young children about. 

I know several people who take a very cavalier approach to road safety: speaking on the phone, drifting through stop signs or failing to seatbelt their children when driving in their local neighborhood. This does not send a positive message to their children whilst in the car. Monkey see - monkey do. I don't want my children to take any risks when behind the wheel - particularly as they will become immortal/bullet-proof teenagers one day - so I seek to enforce safe behavior by modeling it. AT&T has released a It Can Wait campaign, encouraging people to take the pledge to not text while driving. I have done so. 

Werner Herzog*, the German Film Director has released a short documentary From One Second to the Next telling the stories of several people affected by texting accidents - from a variety of perspectives. It is heart wrenching - but a must see. 

The United Kingdom is using a very shocking and graphic video produced by the Gwent Police Force to educate high school students and raise awareness of the dangers of texting while driving. 

When the appropriate time comes, I will be making my children watch these videos. I seek to enlighten my children to make good decisions and to be brave enough to encourage their friends to make good decisions too. 

*Werner Herzog does have a lighter side too - see my blog post here

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