Wednesday, 23 January 2013
I was packing my groceries into my car yesterday when a young mother with a small toddler walked by me. She packed her bags into the car next to me, picked up her daughter and put her in the car seat. I noticed that she used the proper procedures for safely securing her child in the seat and gave her a mental thumbs up. I let her back up before me as she had precious cargo and I was in no great hurry. Once I pulled out, I followed her SUV out of the parking lot and watched as she put her cell phone to her ear.
We both pulled out onto a major highway and it seemed we were heading in the same direction. I kept a safe distance from her vehicle and had a good view of her while she continued to talk on her cell phone. I watched as the SUV continuously edged over the line separating two lanes of traffic and then swing back into the original lane. To my horror, I then watched her drive through a red light.
I returned home and wondered what phone call was so important that this young mother would risk her child's life in order to talk on her cell? Curious, the next day when my SO and I were driving down the highway, I counted the number of cars we passed. Out of 50 cars, 27 drivers were holding a cell phone conversation while driving. 12 of these cars had children in them; 10 of those children were in car seats. When I got home, I looked up some of the statistics and was shocked at the number of lives lost due to cell phone use.
Distracted drivers who talk, text, or eat while driving are responsible for 15 deaths and 1200 injuries PER DAY! Unfortunately, some of those statistics include children. Parents are responsible for the safety of their kids and yet, give no thought to picking up that cell phone while driving with their children in the vehicle. Many states have either passed or are in the process of trying to push legislation that would make it illegal to use a cell phone while driving. Sadly, this is happening too slowly and the laws are simply being ignored.
Having been a parent who had to drive with my kids in the car, I know there are other distractions that drivers encounter. Heavy traffic, horns blaring, or having a crying child in the back seat can all contribute to a total lack of concentration on the road. There is always the additional danger presented by pedestrians crossing the road or an animal darting in front of your vehicle. Do we really need to add yet another risk by talking or texting while driving?
What is so hard about turning your phone off or at least silencing it while you drive your precious cargo to your destination? What is more important than your child's safety? And, even if you are alone in the vehicle, do you want to risk hurting another person or their child because you are talking or texting?
So, the next time you are going to drive your child somewhere, please follow safe procedures: secure the child properly, get in the driver's seat and fasten your seat belt, pull out your cell phone and turn it off! Then you have reduced the risk of putting both of your lives in danger!