Think before you text (and drive)

By Emma Goodwin

In a nine-month stretch during high school, my dad’s car, a Honda Civic, got rear-ended three separate times — all by people who had been texting and driving.

In the summer leading up to my senior year, my family heard a strange thumpsound and then noticed someone trying to drive out of our yard (my house is on the corner of a busy street). When we checked to see what was happening, we discovered that the girl behind the wheel had driven 50 feet through our side yard, tore up our lawn, drove through a tire swing, and hit the corner of our house just feet from where my grandma sleeps. She was also texting.

And just this past Wednesday, my dad’s car — that same sturdy Honda Civic — was totaled during bumper-to-bumper traffic by a young woman who hit my dad’s car so hard that two other cars ended up being hit as well.

I will not allow myself to think about the possible ways my father could have been hurt during this particularly awful crash. But for all of you who don’t know him, feel free to picture the many different conditions under which my father could have been injured. I thank God he is OK.

I also will not allow myself to think about the five different people who have jeopardized his life, as well as the lives of my family members, by driving distractedly or texting and driving. No, if I think about them I will only ever be filled with animosity and hate.

And further, these people have (hopefully) learned their priceless lessons about what can happen when you text and drive.

But, for those of you who haven’t been impacted by the heartbreaking commercials chronicling families who’ve lost people to texting and driving that show cut-off text messages from the moment their loved one was killed; for those of you who haven’t driven in a car with me (or someone like me) who has yelled at you when you’ve pulled out your phone; for those of you who say, “I’m good at texting and driving;” for those of you who haven’t learned the hard way — whether you’re on the victim’s side or the side of the culprit: These words are for you.

Simply put, when you text and drive, you are telling every single person on the road with you that you think your life is infinitely more important than theirs. You are endangering dozens of people at one time by simply being careless.

You have absolutely no excuse and nothing to say that can exempt you from the fact that texting and driving is a frivolous activity, and every time you do it, you are jeopardizing the lives of everyone around you.

To be frank, if you’re someone who is texting and driving, it isn’t your life I’m concerned about anymore. It’s the lives of people like my father, who you’re targeting simply because they’re trying to get to work on the same road as you.

If you’re someone who thinks you’re safe while texting and driving, I assure you there is no such thing. The people who could’ve killed my dad probably thought so on every occasion. But when texting and driving causes 1,600,000 accidents per year, 330,000 injuries per year, 11 teenage deaths every day and 25 percent of all car accidents in general, there is no such thing as doing it “safely.”

While driving becomes more mundane the more we do it, it never stops being dangerous in any number of ways. And there is no reason to add to that danger knowingly.

But it’s time for that approach to be heeded everywhere. The disgust and sickening feeling we all get when we think about drunk driving needs to be applied to texting and driving as well, which is actually even more dangerous (texting and driving is six times more likely to cause an accident than driving while intoxicated).

I will continue to motion and yell at people texting and driving next to me while I’m in the passenger seat of people’s cars, and I won’t be driving distractedly myself. You might think I’m crazy, but the way I see it, you’re three feet away from potentially killing me.

I shouldn’t have to worry about my family members being killed by someone who decided they needed to answer a simple text message instead of look at the people around them. The commercials and ads are right: It can wait.

And more importantly, it needs to wait. You might not value your life enough to keep your phone down, but I value mine, and I value the lives of the people I love. Don’t gamble those lives just to hit send.

Emma is a junior in LAS.

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