Driving: is it a matter of life and death?

Most situations for most people are not matters of life and death. We are not emergency room surgeons, working on critically injured patients, or a commercial aircraft pilot, guiding a plane carrying hundreds of passengers into a safe landing. We deal with less crucial matters. Whether a report is presented at work, we make it to school on time, or we manage to get our shopping done on a weekly basis.

While all are necessary, we never think of them as "life or death." Perhaps we should. What if every time we got into a car or truck, we considered the full implications of our journey. That if we fail to pay attention to our driving, we could run an intersection, drift across a lane into incoming traffic or suffer a mechanical failure that could cause our vehicle to rollover and crash into a tree on the side of the road.

While the media has highlighted the shark attacks that occurred on the beaches of North Carolina in this month, in the 11 days since the June 14 attack, approximately 1,100 people have died in motor vehicle crashes across the county. Based on fatal car crashes in 2013, about 33 people in North Carolina have been killed during those 11 days.

Many of those may have been caused by distracted drivers, including those using cellphones. While North Carolina does not prohibit cellphone use, it has banned texting while driving.

When we are driving, every time we reach for a phone, to check a message, program an address, read a text or check a score of a sporting event, we are making a life and death decision. It may be for the driver of the car in front of us, or the kid on the bicycle riding on the side of the road, or it may be for us.

So the next time we reach for your cellphone for any reason, we should consider if it is a matter of life or death, because it could be.

Source: hearldonline.com, "AAA Carolinas campaigns against distracted driving," Erin Bacon, charlotte observer, June 25, 2015

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