Welcome to my niece, Britanny, a writer/reporter and also Wednesday’s guest blogger:
Hello, my name is Brittany, and I am a distracted driver. I like looking at the pretty colors in the leaves of the trees while driving down a scenic highway where a deer could jump out at any moment. I like singing the lyrics to my favorite song with the music too loud while an ambulance pulls up behind me with its lights on. I like holding conversations with my passengers, using my hands to gesture instead of holding the wheel. I am guilty of liking all of these things, but I will tell you one thing I am not guilty of, DWTM.
DWTM (driving while text messaging) is the newest craze. It has swept the nation faster than you can say “lol”. Girls who once chatted with their phones attached to their ears now have their eyes glued to their keypads as they hurl down the highway at 75 mph. Businessmen (and women) who until recently had to use their laptops for email purposes are typing messages on their Blackberries with one hand, holding coffee with the other, and steering with God-knows-what. Scary, right? You have no idea. I have witnessed the consequences of DWTM and I can tell you, they aren’t pretty.
There I was, in the middle of downtown Louisville, KY, when traffic at a green light came to an abrupt halt. Necks were craning out of driver’s side windows, horns were honking, and select curse words were spat from the mouths of many an angered driver. What was the cause of this ruckus? Some girl, who looked like she was around my age, was in the middle of the intersection, TEXT-MESSAGING. I don’t know how she came to be in the middle of the intersection, but she was blocking traffic from several directions. What makes matters worse is that by the time she finally realized that she was blocking traffic, cars had started going around her. I watched in horror as she stomped on the gas pedal and was almost sideswiped by another car. If you think that this would knock her back to her senses, you are sadly mistaken. The girl, in a fit of rage, accelerated to catch up to the driver who allegedly “cut her off” and in doing so, smashed into the back of his car. I didn’t have time to rubberneck, but I seriously considered pulling over and watching the spectacle that was sure to unfold.
The next day, I was pulling up to work and noticed that a co-worker’s car looked like the automobile version of Two-face. The entire passenger’s side looked like a giant Freddy Krueger hand had been taken to it. Upon asking my co-worker what happened, I received this reply: “Well, I was kinda drunk and it was reallllly late and I was text messaging Jethro (the name doesn’t matter), and I drove off the road and skidded against a guard rail!”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Not only were people driving drunk, they were TEXT MESSAGING WHILE DRIVING DRUNK! This was insane! Had common sense become uncool? Was it now officially “hip” to drive around under the influence, looking anywhere BUT the road? I had to restrain myself from shaking my co-worker half to death. The only consolation I received is that she had broken her phone and couldn’t afford a new one. There was at least one less idiot driver on the road texting, for now.
Sadly, Kentucky is not the only place where people are guilty of DWTM. In Rochester, N.Y., 5 girls were killed when their car hit a tractor-trailer. What was the driver doing moments before impact? You got it, texting. A 17-year-old boy will be facing charges in California after losing control of his car while texting and hitting a bicyclist, who died 2 days later. In the UK, a 19 year-old-girl who had only held her license for 8 months hit a 64 year-old-grandmother. The elderly woman was killed when her car hit the guardrail. I assume you know by now what the 19-year-old was doing.
States such as Washington and New Jersey have banned DWTM. Other states, including Kentucky, are trying to follow suit. This seems a necessary measure, given that the number of deaths from DWTM rises every day. Driving safely is difficult enough for some people; DWTM safely is downright impossible for everyone.