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Child Safety

Mother’s Day


Today is Mother’s Day, and there will be one mother in Orlando, Florida, who is mourning her 15 year old child. My heart goes out to her. Yesterday, May 7, an impaired driver caused a multiple-car crash near Disney World.  “Impaired” is a nice word, in this case, for driving under the influence. One more child’s life has been cut short due to someone else’s selfishness and stupidity.  Yes, stupidity.  How many times do people have to hear, “Don’t Drive Drunk!” to realize they must not do that?  Drunk driving or distracted driving–both are dangerous, distracted driving takes lives too. That drunk driver didn’t have the right to take a child’s life or to cause damage to other people and their vehicles, wittingly or unwittingly. Didn’t that person even vaguely understand that they were threatening other people’s lives simply by operating a vehicle on a public road in an “impaired” condition?  After the accident, it’s too late for “I’m sorry…”

How many times do people have to hear, “Stop the texts, Avoid the wrecks!” to understand that they should not text while driving? I see people texting all the time (they don’t seem to get arrested unless there is an accident–I would guess because so many people do it, the police can’t arrest everyone!).  Not long ago, I saw a woman behind the wheel of a vehicle with her head down, she was texting as she was driving and she was heading straight for the front of an on-coming school bus. Thankfully, she looked up, stepped on her brakes just in time, and the bus also stopped–or the result would have been a nasty accident in front of the local middle school involving young children.

This week, while driving home, I was in my vehicle on an on-ramp waiting for a break to merge into two-lane traffic. A man driving a pick-up with his phone to his ear in his left hand and one hand on the wheel with his right arm, was talking and simultaneously turning onto the ramp where I was waiting to turn…he barely made the turn.  And he could easily not have made it. I breathed a sigh of relief that he was able to negotiate that abrupt turn. But hasn’t everyone who drives experienced something similar recently? What about watching drivers in oncoming traffic drift into your lane as they approach your vehicle and seeing them catch themselves, hopefully, before they go by, with their phone to their ear? It’s ridiculous to drive to the grocery and worry about whether some distracted driver is going to hit you head on.  I find myself using my bright lights and my horn more often, thinking maybe this will wake them up. If you see someone driving erratically, call 911 and if you have it, provide the license number, the location and direction they are headed. Maybe you will prevent an accident and save a life.

Colleen Sheehey-Church, National President of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), says, “There’s been a lack of progress in drunk driving fatality numbers in the past decade.” There are a lot of repeat offenders.  So I am asking our readers to join the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving–and Distracted Driving!  This campaign “calls for high-visibility law enforcement, mandatory ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers and exploration into advanced vehicle-based technology.”   Don’t drink if you are going to drive, don’t eat, talk on the phone, put on make-up, or do anything else when you are supposed to be driving and paying attention to what’s going on, on the road.  If you do this, maybe it will help reduce the numbers of fatalities. Seems like a worthwhile effort to me.

Author: Marianne Halterman

Marianne is a member of the SafeKids Coalition of the Central Shenandoah Valley.

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