Distracted driving is a major cause of accidents in our country, and while we are quick to demonize those who would mix alcohol and automobiles, we have yet to seriously address the problem of drivers who are preoccupied with other things while behind the wheel. Unfortunately, these drivers make up a huge part of the more than 35,000 traffic fatalities on our nation’s roads.
Well, one professional driver has taken to social media to bring the threat of texting and driving to front and center. For guys like him, this is life and death, literally.
James Urbanski is a professional truck driver. Thanks to the hard work hundreds of thousands of men and women just like him, you can enjoy tomatoes in January, and order almost anything from anywhere and have it delivered right to your front door.
But he, and his fellow truckers face a life or death situation every minute they are behind the wheel of their rigs.
Distracted drivers, especially young and inexperienced drivers focused on their cellphones, have become a major threat to truckers, and indeed, to all motorists around them.
Recently Mr. Urbanski took to social media to demonstrate in real terms, the significant danger that these drivers present to the rest of us.
Driving down the road, he witnessed the tragic aftermath of a highway collision between a car and a semi tractor trailer. He decided in the moment to share the horrifying carnage with the world, saying:
“I’m normally not a guy that likes to make a video of himself, but this is important. All you people I see going down the interstate on your phone; barely looking up; almost hitting the back of people; sitting at stoplights not knowing when the light turns green — LISTEN UP…”
While there are many factors that can lead to a traffic accident, including poorly maintained roads, mechanical malfunctions of vehicles, inclimate weather, fatigue and substance abuse, one of the leading cause for motor vehicle collisions is distracted driving. And the primary distraction for motor vehicle operators is their smartphone.
Whether it is finding your perfect road trip jam, locating you on the face of the planet, or giving your friends a heads up on your arrival time, that smartphone does not mix with driving. It just doesn’t. If you do not get this at this point, it may be time for engineers and legislators to act. Given the proliferation of bluetooth functionality in cars today, it would be a simple matter to mandate a phone disabling protocol for cars, to prevent distracted driving.
And remember, driving is a privilege, not a right, so it is not like the rest of society is imposing some unfair burden on distracted drivers. If you want to text, let someone else drive, or walk. Because your friends having your ETA is not worth our lives.
If car makers and phone companies will not address this problem on their own, this may be an instance where legislators have an imperative to act on society’s behalf and require these changes, similar to mandates concerning seat belts and airbags.
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