Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Dead Girl Driving

This morning, I was driving my usual way to work when I came around a bend and up a hill - and just over the top was a car veering over into my lane.  It got more than 50% into my lane before correcting and as I looked, I realized that the driver was a teen or young 20-something texting while driving.  She never even looked up.  I hope she made the sharp curve at the bottom of the hill.

I thought about all the things she would never experience because typing in "OMG" was so much more important than driving her car.  Getting her first real job.  Having her heart broken.  Finding a real and true love.  Having her own home.  Giving birth and raising amazing children.  Being old enough to have a favorite book, movie or wine.  Finding faith.  Watching her parents grow old and mining the treasure that unveils.  Experiencing grief.  And learning that no matter what life throws at you, life goes on and gets better.

Unless you die first.

I also read today about the first recorded texting-helicopter crash.  A medical helicopter pilot was so busy texting that he didn't notice he was out of fuel.  The crash claimed four lives - the pilot, a patient, a nurse, and a paramedic. 

Back in 2008, a train driver was blamed for the worst US train crash in 15 years - the cause?  He was sending and receiving text messages seconds before his crowded commuter train skipped a red light signal and collided head on with a freight train killing 25 people and injuring 135.  I remember how shocked the country was by that.

Will people never learn?

Caution: Graphic Video


Perhaps it's time our eyes were opened.

As of now, the state of Florida does not have any laws on the books that prohibit texting and driving.  Last year a bill was put forth in the Legislature and made it through 4 votes in the Senate, but was never signed off on or enacted.  It died in the Senate Transportation Committee. 

Another bill has been introduced this year in both the House and Senate, but makes texting and driving a secondary offense - which means the driver would have to be pulled over for some other reason before they could be charged with a violation of a texting and driving ban.  The fines for that offense would be $30 + court costs for a first offense and $60 + court costs for a second.

I suppose that could be counted as progress, but how effective would it be?  The fines are a slap on the wrist and being a secondary offense rather than a primary meriting a traffic stop on the basis of texting and driving alone may render the law useless. 

And all the while, the bodies are piling up.

My son is turning 14 this year.  In two more years, he'll be out there on the road.  He doesn't text at all, but he may be killed by some idiot who's not paying attention to their driving.  As a new driver, he may not have the skills or built-in reactions to deal with a car veering into his lane.  We'll do everything we can to make sure he is a safe and conscientious driver - but as of now, there's nothing that can be done about the other kids out there.  One hopes that the Legislature will create and pass a bill that has some teeth in it.  One that will actually save lives instead of pretending to save them.

My baby is going to be out there.  OMG.

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