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Put the Phone Down and Say ‘No’ to Distracted Driving

- Tuesday, June 09, 2015

A Fairhaven Memorial employee guest blogs her personal experience

As a long-time New Yorker, I never needed a car to get around. With easy access to subways, buses and taxis, many lifelong New Yorkers don’t even have a driver license.

Life in Southern California is a different story. In order to get anywhere, driving is a necessity. However, since it’s something we do every day, we tend to forget that each time we get into our cars we put lives at risk – not only our own but also the lives of others on the road.

In California, several thousand people are killed annually in car accidents, many of which were the result of distracted driving. They didn’t need to happen.

We’ve all been guilty of it. Your cell phone rings and you know it’ll be a quick call so you choose not to use a hands-free option. You get a text message and can’t resist the urge to reply immediately. You can’t keep yourself from checking your Facebook news feed while sitting in traffic on the freeway. You fumble with your GPS or phone to check traffic conditions or get directions to your destination.

Last Tuesday morning, on my way to work, I was driving 22 miles per hour in a school zone on a major street. I had the right of way when a woman turned left from a stop sign and crashed into my car. My airbags deployed, my body was jostled and my beloved car was wrecked. At less than 30 miles per hour, the damage was beyond repair.

After assessing the situation, I got out of my car to check on the other driver. “I didn’t even see you!” were the first words she said to me. She was holding her iPad and rummaging around the floor for her cell phone. She was clearly distracted. I wondered what was so important for her to read on her iPad screen – was it worth it? In a split-second moment of poor judgment on her part, I am left with having to buy a new car and dealing with insurance, medical appointments, mounds of paperwork, and lingering pain.

In comparison to our lives and well-being, no distraction is worth the risk of injury or death. We have a false sense of control when behind the wheel, especially when our minds are elsewhere. We think we have a good view of our surroundings. We think we’re safe. We think it won’t happen to us. But in a split second everything can change.

I’m grateful to say that neither of us was severely injured last week. I’m grateful my car did what it was designed to do: give up its life to save mine. I’m grateful for family and insurance.

I work in the funeral industry and come face-to-face with death every day so I know the results could have been drastically different. No text or phone call is worth it. Distracted driving is dangerous and destructive … it can even be deadly. So please do your part and say ‘NO’ to distracted driving. 

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