We need to think about safety on our roads more than we do.
During last month's inaugural Distracted Driving Awareness Week, Illinois State Police issued more than 1,000 distracted driving citations. They only caught a fraction. You can't drive anywhere in any city without seeing drivers distracted by their phone, food, or conversation. And that's to say nothing of other impairments that are quite illegal but not always readily apparent.
There was a time when our vehicular selfishness was just the way of the road. We all remember someone, or even ourselves, driving with a beverage between our legs, a cigarette or a sandwich in one hand and the other on the wheel. While carrying on a heated conversation, and sometimes without wearing seat belts.
Just because we've gotten away with it for so long doesn't mean we'll always be so fortunate. Do you know what's frightening? The number of us driving around one-ton vehicles propelled at speeds as slow as 10 or 15 miles per hour or as fast as we feel like driving.
Now throw in the distractions of reading an email or sending a text while in charge of that vehicle.
Those acts of thoughlessness say things about us that we may not want said. Because bluntly, what we're saying is, “I reserve the right to be outraged if I am hit by a distracted driver, but not enough to not engage in distracted activities myself.”
We owe it to one another to make every effort to be as safe as possible, especially now the the onset of the busy summer driving season.
We need to stop making excuses for ourselves. Some people claim to be incredible multi-taskers -- able to text, eat, sing along, pontificate and still be the safest driver on the road. But studies and a lengthy online test (supertasker.org) show a mere 2 percent of us have anything close to the multitasking ability too many of us think we have.
The geography of states like Illinois can lull us into an unsuitable sense of security. If we're driving 70 miles an hour on a highway and can see for miles around us, and there's no traffic in sight, we can convince ourselves that just this one time, it's OK to send an e-mail or read a text.
It's a logic that works until it doesn't. And when it doesn't, we can hurt more than ourselves. We need look no further than the March pickup-minibus crash in Texas, where 13 people died when the truck driver, while texting, crossed the center line on a two-lane road.
More of us are on the road than ever before, and too many roads are in need of repair. The congestion and faster speeds are reasons enough to pay full attention to what we're doing.
A number of websites are devoted to registering individuals' pledges to not drive distracted. Among those sites are:
Look them over and take the pledge.
-- The Bloomington Pantagraph