“This just in, teen drivers caught in a fatal car accident. Reports say the driver was distracted on the road texting while going 60 miles per hour. People at the scene say”……. “Recent reports say about &$ percent of teens accidents are caused by distracted driving. experts interview a victim of distracted driving who crashed while updating her instagram feed tonight on %$#@ news. Tune in for”……… “It’s important to practice safe driving. Always keep your eyes on the road and avoid drinking, eating, sleeping, driving, texting, and practice sa”………… Ugh. They’re all the same. There’s always those TV ads showing that obnoxious group of teens who can’t take two seconds to look away from their phones, those boring presentations in the school auditorium where people come in a teach you to not be an idiot on the wheel. Everyone knows the statistics. Everyone knows the stories. Everyone’s read the articles. But when you see them, a thought pops in your head. “That sounds dangerous, but it doesn’t sound like me”. It comes subconsciously, but the thought is there. And it’s for that reason that the warnings simply phase from reality, and you get in your car, using your phone at the wheel as you drive out to a friend’s place. You didn’t feel like buying a mount for your phone to prop it up while the GPS is active because you can always just glance at your phone every now and then from your hand. You always do it. It’s not like anything will happen. You’re not stupid. You’re no statistic. You get a text message from your friend who asks if you’re on your way. You consider waiting until a red light to reply but then you think to yourself, “I’m not those raving teens in the commercials or the news stories. As long as I just do it quick I’ll be fine. Two seconds is all it takes”. And you were right. Two seconds was all it took. A little kid is in critical condition in the hospital now with their loved ones agonizing over what may be a potential loss of life to their family. Two seconds is all it took. Your family is crying over your hospital bed, sobbing over what they could’ve done, what they could’ve said, what they may never get the chance to say again. Two seconds is all it took. Your car you saved up so much for over the years is completely wrecked. Two seconds is all it took. Your drifting mind is struggling as it ebbs and flows from the cold blackness and silent nothingness to the moving hospital ceiling as men in masks over you shout medical jargon to each other. Two. Just two seconds. That was all it took. After some time in rehabilitation, you look into the mirror and at your bruised, wounded countenance, and you start to realize you’ve become that face; that nameless statistic in the news. You begin to wonder to yourself again. “That really doesn’t sound like me. That sounds like ANYONE. I mean, it was only two seconds”. Real victims don’t fall into any category. Victims of distracted driving are regular people. People like you. Carelessness has no face. Statistics aren’t just numbers with no names. Every accident has a story, and every victim is a person.
Many people look at warnings against distracted driving and think it doesn’t apply to them. People know about these things painfully well. It’s told to them all the time. What the real problem is however is our portrayal of what negligence looks like. What inspired my story is the way my brother drives. He always drives phone in hand, mostly because he doesn’t want to buy a GPS stand. Of course with his phone in his hand and not in his pocket, he’d be hard pressed not to look at it if he gets a text. The first time he ever did this in front of me, he immediately told me not to do what he’s doing when I start to drive. Why? Because he knows what he’s doing. This changed however when one day he was on the highway and as he was glancing between his phone and the road, he hit a tire. He made it out without too much hard, but he’s one of the lucky ones. A tire, and actual tire on the road of a highway is something almost laughably impossible to miss. Not only would you of course see it coming, but you’d see the cars in front of your obviously avoiding something. I asked how he could’ve possible not seen it, and he said “I looked away for like two seconds” when describing how he was looking at his phone when it happened. That line stuck out to me. Those two seconds could’ve been it for him if the highway was more busy. Those two seconds could’ve cost him his life if he swerved into oncoming cars at highway level speeds. It came to me then that you can’t just be careless if you do it responsibly or “know what you’re doing”. Carelessness is carelessness. I hoped to establish in my writing that people who get involved in accidents like this aren’t stupid like many think they are. If we want to prevent people from driving distracted, we need to first tackle this stigma that only bad, negligent drivers get into accidents like this, and address that subconscious mindset of “that sounds dangerous, but it doesn’t sound like me”.