See those little guys above? They’re baby snapping turtles. They don’t really look all that dangerous, do they? I mean, when they get big, they’re nothing to mess with, but as babies, they’re pretty docile. Hard to imagine one being responsible for a car accident, right? Well, technically, the snapper wasn’t responsible, I was, because I was distracted driving!
About ten years ago I crashed my car. It was the only crash I’ve ever had because it taught me to be more aware of my driving. See, I had a baby snapping turtle on my passenger seat. I was taking him back to the lake after my then-husband found him on the side of the road and brought him to me. He thought it was a box turtle. The claws and sharp beak should have given it away.
My first mistake was putting a snapping turtle on my passenger seat. Really, who does that? Me, apparently. My biggest mistake, though, was trying to calm the turtle when he freaked out and started hissing. The air conditioning hit him and he went nuts. Rather than keeping my eyes on the winding road, I looked at the turtle and tried to comfort him. I looked up in time to see the tree coming straight at my car. I totaled my car because I was too busy paying attention to something other than the road. Thankfully, no one was hurt, aside from a big welt on my shoulder from the seat belt.
Distracted Driving: More than just texting and talking on the phone
When most people think about distracted driving, they tend to hone in on those who text or talk on their phone while behind the wheel. Sure, those are definitely not conducive to paying attention to the road, but they aren’t the only way to be distracted. In my case, a turtle on my passenger seat was all it took to keep my eyes and mind off the road. Basically, anything that takes your attention away from the task at hand is an example of distracted driving.
Make a Pledge to Decide to Drive
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery (AAOS) and the Auto Alliance are trying to increase awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. Did you know that, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2012 there were 3,328 fatalities and about 421,000 injuries in crashes related to distracted driving? The orthopaedic surgeons are the specialists who put those bones and limbs back together after traumatic events. They’d much rather see you “decide to drive” and prevent those limbs from getting banged up in the first place.
The Decide to Drive program wants to empower you as both a driver and a passenger to speak up about distracted driving. The site offers numerous tools, from startling statistics to downloads that you can use on your social media sites. Learn about distracted driving, then make a pledge to stop the behavior when you’re driving. If you’re a passenger in the car with a distracted driver, please, speak up. Teach your children to speak up as well. Remember, you are your car’s number one safety feature. All the extra features in the world can’t replicate the attention you give to driving.
Will you pledge to Decide to Drive? What is one thing you know you can do better to cut down on distracted driving?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.