Don’t you see what happens, you simpletons, you idiots? Carelessness kills; complacency is murder. First pay attention to me, and then relax. Now you can take it easy—you’re in good hands. Proverbs 1:29 (The Message)
I have never been a great driver. Not since my dad first put me behind the wheel and I ran over an electrical transformer and came within inches of driving off a seawall. He immediately signed me up for driver’s ed. Even though I passed, they determined I had a problem with depth perception. Not words that exactly inspire confidence in yourself. I have been driving for over thirty five years now and am more experienced, but still not the best driver because I don’t drive defensively. One year, I was in three accidents in less than two months, all caused by people making left turns or running into the back of me. I also have a bit of a lead foot although I am more careful now that speeding tickets are up in the hundreds of dollar range. And because I have sons who rub it in my face when I get stopped. Cell phones are not good for me either. I have a bad habit of waiting to return phone calls until I am in the car. As if I have nothing else to do. While driving a three thousand pound vehicle through traffic. Multitasking appeals to me. But, really, driving by itself is multitasking isn’t it? Watching for other cars, pedestrians, and the road? That’s enough without reaching down to pick up my cell phone isn’t it? As we went into a new year, I made a resolution to keep my phones in my purse when I am driving. My deterrent is to remind myself that the police can track my phone calls and what I was doing the exact time I might get into an accident. I’ve been a lot better, but oddly, I almost wrecked my car yesterday, and it didn’t even involve a cell phone. When I leave my house in the morning, I make a left turn into the direction of the rising sun. I try to remember to put my sunglasses on before I leave our driveway, but sometimes, because of the trees, I don’t think about it. Then, I make that turn and am blinded by the sunrise. That’s what happened yesterday morning. I took my eyes off the road both to avoid the light and to scan the car for my sunglasses. I felt the car jerk sharply to the right and begin going downhill. I corrected back onto the road, but not before looking right down into the bay. Almost over another seawall again! It took the whole drive to work before I calmed down and then, when I turned on my computer, there was this email staring at me as part of a daily alert from the Sheriff’s Department:
Do you use your cell phone or text while driving? Do you listen to the song on the radio more than watching for road hazards? Do you have detailed conversations with others in your car while driving? If you can answer “Yes” to any of these questions, then you are putting yourself and others in danger.
According to the National Safety Council, drivers who use their cell phones while driving are four times more likely to be involved in a crash. In fact, they have found no difference in the cognitive distraction between hand-held and hands-free devices. They estimate that 6 percent of all crashes nationwide have cell phone usage as a contributing factor. That amounts to 636,000 crashes with 2,600 fatalities every year being related to drivers using their cell phone alone.
But, cell phones alone aren’t to blame. They are simply one way a driver can get distracted from their responsibility of driving their vehicle safely. The NSC estimates that 80 percent of car crashes are related to driver inattention. So, PAY ATTENTION while driving and look out for those who aren’t! It could be the difference between you getting home safely or you being involved in a crash.
Yes, I think I got the message to pay attention! Sometimes, God has to give me a fright to get me to pay attention to Him, too. It is a whole lot better when I listen the first time!