Stories are important to us. For most of human history, people have used stories to share wisdom, morality, knowledge entertainment and humor. With all of the communication methods available today, stories still tend to make the greatest impact.
Perhaps this is important for safety advocates to keep in mind as they attempt to address one of America’s most prevalent health hazards: distracted driving. Approximately 421,000 people were injured in 2012 in distracted driving accidents on U.S. roads. That same year 3,328 people were killed because they or another motorist were distracted behind the wheel. We’ve all heard the statistics. But for many drivers here in Michigan and around the country, the message won’t sink in without hearing the stories of those whose lives have been forever changed by distracted driving.
A recent news article shares the story of one Michigan woman who was injured seven years ago when a distracted driver drifted across the highway and struck her car in a violent head-on collision. The woman considers herself lucky to have survived and to have mostly healed. She still has pain when she walks sometimes, and she is now terrified of driving.
As for the 28-year-old man who caused the accident, he died that day. He was found inside of his truck with a CD still in his hand. He had probably been trying to change the music in his CD player when he drifted out of his lane.
Cellphones are perhaps the most common source of distraction for drivers. But as this story demonstrates, drivers are put at serious risk by anything that takes their eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel and their mind off the task of driving.
The next time you are driving and get tempted to check a text message, make a call or even mess with the stereo, please remember stories like this one. Whatever the distraction may be, it’s not worth risking your life or the life of another driver.
Source: Fox 17, "Survivor of Distracted Driving Crash Speaks to Dangers of Texting and Driving," Dana Chicklas, Feb. 26, 2013