Once you become a mom, all sorts of ordinary things start to make your belly go all rubbery inside. For me, I can no longer go on scary rides at amusement parks, or watch movies about anything bad happening to kids, or drive without stressing out on the highways. I chalk all of this up to some sort of maternal instinct that kicks in once you’ve created a life and realize that now you’re charged with taking care of your child for the rest of your life. Being a parent, with all of the responsibilities that come with it, changes you forever.
So when I get on the highway and see people driving distractedly, it really makes me upset…and nervous. I’ve been known to (safely) switch lanes to get out of their way or to slow my car down to a crawl just so I can put enough space between me, my kids, and them. I’m always on the look out for distracted drivers – and it’s not all that hard to spot them, especially when you’re a defensive driver like me. I know when people are texting and driving, or fighting with someone in their car, or just not paying close attention.
One morning, as I was heading into work, I was driving behind a car that started to swerve erratically and caused a very bad car crash. Luckily, my defensive driving skills kicked in and I was able to swerve my own vehicle up onto an exit ramp without hurting myself — or anyone else. When my heart finally stopped pounding in my ears, and my stomach crawled back out of my throat, I looked over to see what had happened to the other cars. Unfortunately, one of drivers had not gotten out.
Being a Mom, I was very concerned — even more so because I knew that the driver was a young girl. She was someone’s daughter. So I ran across the highway with a fellow driver who had also pulled over, and we went to check on the passenger. The girl was sitting in her car, bleeding from a small wound on her forehead, holding her cell phone. We asked her if she was okay and she said she had been fighting with her Mom on the phone.
As she sat there, her car started to go on fire so we quickly pulled her from the vehicle and moved her to a safer location while the flames engulfed her car. While we attended to her bleeding head, the girl called her Mom back and started fighting with her all over again. Thankfully, she was okay and so was the other driver, but not once did she put down her phone to see all of the damage her distracted driving had caused. Both of their cars were totaled – and the highway was left full of debris, oil and a tremendous amount of black smoke causing traffic jams for miles.
After this incident, I made a conscious decision to #DecideToDrive. I made a pact with myself that whenever I got behind the wheel of my car, I would make sure that I was focused on the important task at hand – driving my vehicle safely – because distracted driving is no accident. Crashes are caused by intoxicated, speeding, distracted, or careless drivers and, therefore, are not accidents.
So before you get behind the wheel of your car again, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Auto Alliance want to increase awareness about the risks of distracted driving and want you to know a few important things about the DecideToDrive program:
- The Decide to Drive program aims to empower drivers and passengers to speak up about distracted driving, continue the conversation at home, work and play, and reduce distracted behaviors behind the wheel.
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), of the nearly 33,000 roadway fatalities in 2012, there were 3,328 fatalities and approximately 421,000 injuries in distracted driving-related crashes.
- Orthopaedic surgeons—the specialists who put bones and limbs back together after road crashes and traumas—along with our partners, the automakers, would rather help all drivers “decide to drive” each time they get in the car and to keep bones and limbs intact.
- Remember, the most advanced safety feature of any vehicle is the driver. The AAOS and the Auto Alliance urges all drivers to keep their most sophisticated safety features engaged at all times: eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.
- FYI: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons on Facebook
- FYI: Auto Alliance on Facebook
- FYI: “Decide to Drive” on Facebook
Be safe my friends,
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.0