We’ve all heard the message: Distracted driving changes lives. We’ve read the statistics, too, like that in 2014 more than 9,000 collisions in Indiana were caused by distracted driving.
And yet, we persist. We speak out of both sides of our mouth. Parents sit behind the wheel, lecturing their teens about the dangers of texting and driving, and moments later, they take a phone call, justifying the hypocrisy with, “Well, this is important. I have to take it.” Guess what? To your teens, responding to that group chat is equally important.
Why We Do It
The simple fact of the matter is, most of us simply do not take seriously the gamble we take with our lives—and with the lives of other people on the road—every time we give in to that urge, temptation, or just plain habit to pick up our phones while we are driving so we can answer a call, send a text, post a meme, or update a playlist.
Maybe it has to do with how ingrained in our lives our phones have become. They are beyond ubiquitous—more like an extension of our bodies—and never leaving our clutches, our thoughts, or our senses. The whole thing is getting dangerous. Let me paint for you just one image that illustrates the extent of distracted driving in Indianapolis.
Little Miss Carefree
A few days ago, I saw a young lady sitting on the back of her boyfriend’s crotch rocket. I should explain to my non-biker readers that a crotch rocket is one of those racing-style motorcycles you see speeding down the road—the driver has to lean forward in the seat to operate it. I’m sure you’ve seen them.
Anyway, this young woman is sitting on the back of that bike. There’s no “sissy bar” or anything behind her—literally nothing to hold her onto the seat. She doesn’t even have her arms wrapped around her boyfriend’s waist. Instead, she has both hands on her cellphone—probably texting or posting a selfie to Instagram, or something of equal importance and urgency.
To further paint the picture, I can tell you this young lady was wearing shorts, not pants. She had on flip flops. And no helmet.
The Danger Is Real
I happen to ride a motorcycle to work somedays. I love it. But I respect the danger that goes along with the thrill of the ride. So for me to look over and see this extreme recklessness sent my mind into overdrive with everything that could go wrong—could very easily and very quickly go wrong, I should say.
As a personal injury lawyer, I know all too well how a car crash can happen in the blink of an eye and how lives become permanently altered in response to that fleeting moment.
All it would take would be for this girl’s boyfriend to make one sudden acceleration, and this carefree young woman would be on the ground. If someone were driving behind the bike, they would run her right over. Who knows what other kinds of traffic pile-up would occur as a result of the sudden braking by anyone following. Many people could have been injured—especially if they, too, were momentarily distracted by their phones.
The Invincibility is False
Granted, this girl was not driving, and the point of this blog is about distracted driving in Indianapolis. But to me, the connection is clear. That packaged image of a complete sense of invincibility, unawareness, and unappreciation for the inherent and probable—not possible—risks that accompany such distraction, inspired me to write about this topic.
And here’s the connection. For me, it’s natural to assume that if someone is willing to make their phone a priority while riding completely exposed on the back of a motorcycle, that person is probably doing the same thing when she’s behind the wheel of her own car, too.
It’s Time to Wake Up
Whether distracted driving in Indianapolis comes in the form of texting and driving, talking and driving, applying make-up and driving, or simply being mentally preoccupied and driving, this problem of distraction is one we can no longer ignore. There are too many of us on the road—driving, riding scooters, walking, bicycling. And we’re all in a really big hurry to get where we’re going, and so we’re all speeding. And we’re all distracted.
I don’t know what I can do to change it. Honestly, I can really only commit to changing my own habits that lean toward distracted driving. But that won’t make a difference if I’m the only one changing. The question I ask here is, how are you going to change it?
It’s going to take something monumental to alter the mindset we’ve worked ourselves into these days where being distracted is basically the norm, and people do not even realize they are distracted when they’re preoccupied and driving, conversing and driving, changing the music and driving—or even texting and driving.
Decide to Be Deliberate
What’s really disturbing about the scene that inspired me to write this blog is I’m sure that young lady riding on her boyfriend’s motorcycle looked at her calendar that morning before she got on that bike, and because her calendar did not indicate a car accident would happen that day, the very idea never entered her head. It was not going to happen to her.
But that’s the chilling reality: Nobody thinks an accident is going to happen in that split second they look down to reply with a “lol.” Nobody thinks it will happen to them—until it does happen to them.
So, I say, let’s have a conversation about something we need to change in our lives before it changes our lives. Enough with distracted driving, Indianapolis—and on with deliberate living.