Hawaii teens face a significant risk of injury from auto collisions. The statistics are daunting:
Car crashes are the #1 killer of teens. 80% of these collisions have some form of driver inattention as a contributing factor—that is over 4,000,000 crashes per year caused by driver distraction.
How many kids watch their parents talking on the cell phone as they drive? How can those teens change their parents driving habits? How hard is to speak up? How many young girls watch their boyfriends texting as they drive? Why don't more teens speak up and tell the driver _ parent or boyfriend or girlfriend or friend _ to stop? We know that few speak up. Most of us go along with the flow and let the driver drive. Can we change that? Can we support a person who tells the driver to "stop driving distracted?"
It will take some effort. Everyone knows that it is unsafe to take your eyes off the road when you drive. In Hawaii it is illegal to text and drive or to hold a cell phone to your ear and drive. In the 3 seconds that a driver looks at the phone to dial or text the vehicle traveling at 45 mph will travel 66 yards, over half of a football field. Would anyone shut their eyes while driving a car for 3 seconds? Then why text or dial a cell phone? The answer is because the driver hasn't killed anyone yet. Our world has become one where people do it because they can do it. By focusing on the phone and the conversation and not the risk, the driver is avoiding the serious consequences.
The stories put into perspective why each of us must speak up. The world we live in is full of people screaming and arguing and complaining, but when a driver is distracted no one speaks up. When the news media discusses distracted driving it often seems like the story is about how unreasonable it is to ask a driver to put the phone down and inconvenience themselves. Can you say that after watching one of these true stories of loss and death over some stupid conversation? What have we come to as a community?
Our legislature had the wisdom to pass a law to make texting while driving illegal. Good for them and it is a step in the right direction. But laws only go so far. It is education, awareness and public activism that is required to stop these practices.
How many of you will take the following steps to stop distracted driving?
1. Drive without texting.
2. Drive without making or receiving calls or texts.
3. Call/Text before I start driving to let parents or friends know when I’ll arrive.
4. When I am alone, I can turn my cell phone off/on vibrate when I start to drive.
5. Pull over to safe location before making/receiving calls/texts.
6. Deputize my passenger to make/receive calls/texts while I am driving.
7. Wait until I have finished driving to eat.
8. Wait until I am finished driving to adjust music—change CD’s, scroll through iPod
or iPhone or similar device.
9. Put makeup on before I start to drive or wait until I am finished to reach for
objects in the back seat.
10. Wait to text/call others until they have finished driving.
11. Ask my driver to drive safer if I am a passenger in their car.
12. Be a driver who cares about the safety of others and is not selfish.
I can do this to save my life, lives of my friends and family, and lives of others.
A resident of Honolulu, Hawaii, Wayne Parson is an Injury Attorney that has dedicate his life to improving the delivery of justice to the people of his community and throughout the United States. He is driven to make sure that the wrongful, careless or negligent behavior that caused his clients' injury or loss does not happen to others.