Okay, it’s well understood, this is the 21st century. Anyone from Generations X through Millennial has probably spent enough time around computers and other electronic devices that the idea of someone being “techno-illiterate” actually seems like a pretty weird concept now. Not know how to use a computer? What are you, crazy? EVERYONE knows how to use one now, they’re in our freaking pockets, we make Facebook posts and Tweets using computers every five minutes. This is a generation that was born multi-tasking! In the future, babies are going to pop out of the womb and post selfies about it while creating Netflix accounts and demanding fair trade organic mother’s milk from Amazon at the same time, that’s the kind of future we’re headed for, kids.
But just because we can multi-task, it doesn’t mean we should. There’s a time do to a few things at the same time and a time when we absolutely should not be doing this, because it’s such a bad, BAD idea. Here’s a hint when it’s a bad time; when human lives are actually on the line, it’s probably not a good moment to get casual about things. When you’re behind the wheel, you’re driving a car or a truck, sure, but that’s just your idea of what’s going on. In reality, when you get right down the physics and scientific principle of the thing, you’re sending several tons of metal alloys hurtling through space at high speed, and whatever it hits is going to be in a bad way. The same goes for what’s inside the vehicle, meaning you and your passengers.
But here’s the thing; no matter how much we may all nod our heads about how it’s important to drive safely, some of us are just paying lip service and head nodding to the theory. In the real world we get into these vehicles, we hit the road, and we stop paying attention to what’s on the road and start concentrating on sending that text message or taking that perfect selfie.
It’s called distracted driving, and even though it doesn’t seem like such a big deal, it is.
The Horror Stories
Here’s the PSA part of this article, where we dig up some of the ugly stories that have actually happened where people thought using their phones was more important than paying attention to the road, and bad things went down.
In 2014, up in Canada, in the French province of Quebec, Emy Brochu received a text message from her boyfriend saying, “I adore you, Mm. Brochu,” which is an incredibly sweet thing to receive. Unfortunately, she was driving on a highway at the time and that highway was quickly merging with another road. Emy couldn’t wait to reply, because love, right? There’s nothing more important than that. Absolutely NOTHING. So she typed “I love you too, and I will do all I can to make you happy.” Sometime between sending that message, and getting back Xes, and Os in reply, Emy plowed into the back of a transport truck and died of her injuries. Her boyfriend, Mathiu Fortin, kept messaging her back wondering why she wasn’t replying and then finally understood when they broke the news to him. He’s now an advocate AGAINST distracted driving and texting while driving for obvious reasons. Love letters are great until you lose your life trying to write one, and no one wants to receive that as their last message from you.
Down in Florida in 2015, Alex Lopatnyuk, who is a chiropractor and so should REALLY, REALLY KNOW BETTER was coming back from an alligator hunt with his friends. He got bored while driving and so, in order to kill the time, decided to participate in that greatest of new American activities, taking a selfie. However, Dr. Lopatnyuk was a bit more ambitious. He wasn’t just going to pull out his phone and take a photo, or even shoot video. No, he had bought a GoPro camera, mounted it on a selfie-stick and held it outside to get a dramatic, cinematic shot of himself driving his jeep with his friends in the truck up ahead.
At the exact instant that he decided to smile pretty for the camera, his friends up ahead, in a pick-up truck, with a canoe in it, decided to brake. Dr. Lopatnyuk, completely did NOT see any of this because he was looking at the camera. His jeep crashed straight into the truck and, fortunately for him, the canoe missed his head, even though it did hit the windshield of his vehicle. This video, in all its embarrassing glory, is available to view on YouTube for anyone that wants to see exactly what happens when you pick a poor time to decide that now’s the moment when you want to get an image of yourself for posterity’s sake.
The Basic Lesson
Okay, here it is, and it’s really, really simple. Distracted driving? JUST DON’T DO IT, KIDS. Grown-ups, this applies to you too. We’ve made some amazing progress in the last 30 years against drunk driving, and it’s worked. People finally get that this is a really bad idea, and most of us don’t do it anymore. It also helps that the law cracks down really hard on drunk driving related accidents. But somehow, despite the fact that distracted driving is now a GREATER threat on the road than drunk driving is, everyone still seems to think it’s okay. We finally realized that drunk driving is not okay, that racism is not okay, and that bullying does not build character, but is also NOT OKAY. So why are we not coming to the same understanding about distracted driving? It’s one thing to play a movie on Netflix on the TV while doing work on the computer and then stopping to reply to a Tweet on your phone. It’s another thing to do all this while you’re driving a vehicle at 30 or more miles per hour. I know this is going to be difficult for some of you to believe, but sometimes, these things can actually wait. Not driving distracted is part of defensive driving too.
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