Written by:Gwen-Marie Davis Hicks, Esq
My grandmother used to always tell me shortly after I started driving that, “A car is a gun!” I did not understand what she meant by that. I would respond, “No, it is not grandma…a car is a vehicle, not a gun.” She replied to me, “Yes, a car is a gun, because if you do not drive carefully you can kill yourself, and others around you, so drive safe.”
Although a strong analogy, I have overtime come agree with my grandma. (Shhh…. Please do not tell my grandma Martin if you see her.) As a driver, it is important to be alert, pay attention to the road, obey the traffic laws, because it just may save your life. We have all heard, don’t text and drive. But do we always listen?
Our smartphones contain so much information, and we rely on them for so much. We have social media alerts, text messages, instant messages, phone calls, GPS directions, bank alerts, job alerts, emails, breaking news, Facebook live posts, and so much more.
Let me paint a picture for you. Imagine you just buckled an 8-month old infant in the car seat, and the baby is playing with a raddle. You buckle your seatbelt and start your car, then put your phone down next to your gear and begin your journey for the morning. So far you are off to a good and safe day. You turn your music up, and begin your commute. A few minutes into your drive, you get an alert on your phone, you think to yourself, I wonder who that is. You glance down at your phone for a few seconds, and see that you received a text message from your boss. CALL ME, IT IS IMPORTANT! You start to worry as to what could be so important. At the same time, the baby starts screaming hysterically. You look back at the baby crying, and notice that she has dropped the raddle toy, and can’t reach it. You reach far in the back seat like an Olympian, while trying to keep your eyes on the road, and barely grab the toy with your fingertips, and hand it to the baby. Thankfully, the sweet baby calms down. Moments later, the phone starts to ring. The call is from your roommate. You wonder, what does your roommate want? Then you start thinking to yourself, “I have got to connect the blue tooth to the car, so I can answer these calls safely.” The phone rings again, this time you answer, “Yes roomie?” “Hey, you forgot your work bag, do you need it?!” You sigh, “Yes, I am turning around now.”
You rush to turn the car around, and think, “Now I am going to be late.” Your mind jumps back to your boss who you did not respond to yet. You know you should not be on the phone while driving, so you decide to text him REALLY quick. “DRIVING WILL CALL YOU ASAP.” So you start to look at your phone to text your boss and you are almost finished texting. “DRIVING WILL CALL YOU…” As you are looking down, to complete your text a car stops suddenly in front of you, and BOOM, you have a rear end collision. For the purposes of my illustration, and the fact that a sweet baby girl is in the back seat, everyone is ok. However, it does not always turn out that way.
Let’s review the story, because everything seemed very important AT THE MOMENT.
1. Responding to a Crying Baby
2. Looking down at your phone, to Quickly Read a Text Message
3. Operating a phone without a hands free device to call your roommate back
4. Responding to a Text Message to your boss While Driving
And some point, we have all been in a situation like this. How we handle it is very important. Responding to alerts, and messages can wait. Looking at your phone every few minutes, may be out of habit or boredom. It you find yourself distracted while driving, scrolling Facebook, or Snapchat, wondering if you missed something, you may want to turn your phone on silent and put it in the glove compartment so you are not tempted to look at it until you are no longer driving. Just remember, in the above scenario if something fatal happened to the driver, somehow, the job where you work, the Facebook live post, and the snap chat selfies and feed will go on without you. Your baby, or grandbaby or whoever the baby is in this scenario NEEDS you! SO BE THERE FOR THEM AND DON’T DRIVE DISTRACTED. If the baby is crying and you want to see what is wrong, it is much safer to pull over, and/ or maybe install mirrors in the back seat to view a rear-facing baby. Whatever the pressing issue is, that is causing you to be distracted, please wait until you are no longer operating your vehicle.
I have handled hundreds of personal injury cases, and often with the auto-accident cases I have been involved in, there was a DISTRACTED driver involved. The injuries are often severe, and have even been fatal. The phone or other distractions can wait! Often, those who are texting are not carrying on a full conversation. But all it takes is to be slightly distracted.
After all grandma was right. A car is a gun! Be a safe driver and operate your vehicle prudently.
Gwen-Marie Davis Hicks, Esq.is the managing partner at GDH LAW. GDH LAW represents injury victims, and business and civil litigation clients.
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