From the time I understood the purpose of a car, I have been waiting for my chance to drive one. So finally, after years of waiting, I was overjoyed to get to stand outside of the DMV in the rain on my 16th birthday anxiously waiting to receive my permit. Finally, after about two hours at the DMV, I was allowed to drive.
I clearly remember stepping into the car with my dad, turning it on and allowing it to coast, only to become paralyzed with fear, unable to press the gas or turn the wheel. You see, I have always been one to need constant control, and maneuvering a huge piece of machinery with no experience really wasn’t the easiest situation to control. So, in order to begin to master this trade, I spent countless hours in parking lots and on the back streets of my neighborhood learning the basics of hand-over-hand steering, stopping, going and reluctantly accepting my dad’s advice of not driving with two feet. Finally, I was ready for the big time—Boston Post Road.
I think it was my driving instructor who took me on the open road for the first time. I went out with such confidence, easily turning through the streets of my quiet neighborhood, ready to take a road that will actually get me somewhere. Well, I turned onto Boston Post Road, drove at 10 miles an hour for about 45 seconds and freaked out. I eventually turned into a back street, and my driving instructor thought it would be best to practice a bit more in a parking lot.
Being exposed to all of the people on the Boston Post Road made me realize I may have control of myself and my car, but I have no control over the other hundreds of people on the road. I may be aware that texting and driving kills nearly 500,000 people each year, but are others aware? Today, 71 percent of drivers between the ages of 18 and 49 continue to partake in this deadly habit.
Why do Americans participate in what Oprah refers to as a “deadly obsession”? Why do we continue to do something that has statistically proven to be more dangerous than driving drunk? I can’t really answer that, but it could be because we live in the age of constant communication, and where at every moment of every second of every day we are supposed to know what everyone is doing. Apparently, drivers feel the need to check their phones so they can find out that a friend has texted them to say he has just “taken a shower” or “eaten dinner,” because those messages are so important that they must risk their life to check them.
That’s scary to think about, right? That each time you check your phone while driving you’re risking your life. Not only are you risking your life, but also the lives of the passengers in your car and innocent passengers and drivers on the road. Think about that next time you’re on the road and your blackberry beeps.
So long story short, this is why I wont text and drive. Because I think any message worth risking my life, is a message worth waiting to read. Because I want to grow up to one day become a productive member of society and won’t let a text message stop that. And finally, because it is my responsibility not to text in order to keep every new driver like me safe. I, and every driver out there, are responsible for keeping one another safe, and no one is able to fulfill that responsibility while scrolling through emails and navigating their way on the open road. So next time your phone beeps while your driving, let the message wait.