Two Seconds

Michael H


Two seconds is as much a great amount of time as it is a minuscule slice of history in the life of a person. Considering all that has ever happened over the billions of years everything has existed, two seconds is nothing, a mere blip. Yet, at the same time, two seconds can mean the difference between that teenage girl making it home safe to her parents and her attending her first funeral in the seat of honor: the casket. But, if you’re too concerned with quickly checking that notification you were just sent, I understand. What’s one human life in comparison to that ‘k’ text your best friend responded back with? You’re a good driver though, right? And what are the odds something will happen in the first place? I could tell you they’re slim to put your mind at ease, but in truth, it doesn’t matter if something has a 0.00000000000001% chance of occurring, because that chance still exists. As long as you sit behind the wheel of a multi-ton machine, it is your responsibility to ensure that vehicle does not hurt anyone. Letting your eyes wander, daydreaming, changing the radio station, and of course, checking your phone are all distractions you can afford until the day something finally does happen. One fall afternoon where the wind has a certain bite to it and dried leaves skirt across the asphalt in droves, you’re on your way home. You glance down, for just a moment, and subconsciously your foot applies a little more pressure to the gas pedal. Eyes on the screen as you skip through those annoying songs, you don’t notice your speedometer ticking up. You crest the hill, and in front of you a car pulls out. You see a flash from the sunlight on the bumper and look up. In a quarter of a second you realize what is happening. You have 1.75 seconds left for your brain to tell your foot to move to the brake pedal and slam down as hard as you can. You didn’t have enough time. The front of your car punches through the left-side passenger door, crushing the bones of the seven-year-old in the seat. He is rushed to the hospital for immediate surgery as you sit at home, feeling nauseous as red and blue lights spin around your head. You learn the next day that the boy didn’t make it. As if to taunt you, the lyrics to the song you were looking for play in your head on reel. I hope it was worth it to you, and to the parents of that boy.


While this story is entirely fictitious, I have at least second-hand experience with the consequences of distracted driving. My older brother by eight years has had his fair share of incidents, all but one resulting because of error on his part. While changing the radio station he gouged the side of his car on an old metal trailer. Enraptured with texting his girlfriend, he forgot the brake pedal existed and rammed into the back of her truck. Busy fiddling with the wrappers on his hamburger, he forgot to look behind him as he backed out of a parking lot and was hit by an oncoming vehicle. Because of all that, I understand the dangers of not focusing all of one’s attention on the road while driving, and that has only become more clear to me as I have spent time behind the wheel myself. I wanted to relate in that story, or rather the later paragraphs, that anxiety I carry with me about what could happen if I’m not paying close enough attention. I always worry about exactly that sort of thing happening. Others are less concerned, which is the reason this short piece was written: to get drivers to understand why the small things, that seem to inconsequential, can have huge repercussions.