The Land of Oz: Speeding and Scrolling are Weapons of Mass Distraction Featured

23 Oct 2018 Derek Osborn

Last month, my sister-in-law had a car accident. It was not her fault, as she was simply cruising a straight road, innocently (albeit, dreadfully) headed to work on a Monday morning. But other than to law enforcement and the insurance companies, the person who was at fault really didn't matter. All three of the people involved were hurt, one of which was serious. 

I won’t over-dramatize the story by telling you for certain that the at-fault driver was distracted, but it’s a relatively safe bet that she was, as she clearly pulled straight out into oncoming traffic. Score: Truck-1, Economy Car-0. Winner: None. 

You don't need me to tell you how widespread of a problem distracted driving is… just look around you the next time you are toodling down the freeway. If you do, you’ll notice that somewhere between 50-75 percent of drivers are looking at their phone… WHILE. THEY. ARE. MOVING. 

I’m not talking about the drivers sitting at a red light. I’m completely guilty of that offense. And if you’re sitting behind me when that light turns green, and I’m still reading that all-important work email and don't notice, then honk at me. I deserve it, because the truth is, I shouldn't be doing that either. 

However, this is more centered on the people that refuse to put down their weapon of mass distraction while attempting to maneuver hordes of traffic and, in Tuscaloosa’s case, a superabundance of orange barrels. 

The root cause is not just texting and driving – or, as Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale says, driving “intexticated,” either. It could also be one, if not a combination of: Facebooking, Snapchatting, GPS’ing, liking, following, sharing, eating, drinking, videoing, holding an animal, or seeing how long you can close your eyes before hitting something and driving.    

The truth is, we just need to be… driving. 

One morning, I got stuck behind a lady who was multi-tasking (which is about the nicest way I can put it). To her credit, she was driving under the speed limit: 30mph in a 55mph zone which was, of course, driving me insane. But the most impressive detail about this encounter was the fact that she was scrolling through her phone with one hand while applying mascara with the other – as the sun visor mirror blocked her view of the road and a small dog jumped around in her lap.  

Now, I’m no DD expert, but I’m pretty sure this meets the criteria. While the feat itself was impressive, her reaction time would have spelled certain doom for anyone involved, not to mention her dog, her phone, and those poor eyelashes.  

So, before you go speeding and scrolling, please, take a minute to think about your own welfare, but also the safety of the mom in front of you with two small children in the back. Or the elderly couple just out to get some coffee. Or that guy on the motorcycle who has nothing protecting him. 

If it’s an emergency, chances are you will get a phone call… not a text.  Everything else can wait. 

I tweet insignificant things @ozborn34.           

Derek Osborn is the Executive Director of PRIDE of Tuscaloosa by trade and a writer by hobby. He lives in Tuscaloosa with his wife, Lynn, and their daughters, Savannah and Anica.     

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Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

 

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