The Truth About Texting

You just never know what might be coming around the bend.

*The National Safety Council’s Statistics Department estimates 400 people will die in traffic accidents this Labor Day holiday period, which begins at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2, and will end at 11:59 p.m. Monday, Sept. 5. Together we can reduce that tragic number simply by reading and sharing this message.

I recently found myself frantically pulling off to the side of the road, steadying my trembling hands, and taking deep calming breaths until my heart regained normal pace.

Never had I felt so certain I was about to die than I had in the two terrifying minutes prior to pulling my car to safety.

On a winding country road, just behind my neighborhood, a young man driving an old Chevy El Camino suddenly appeared around the bend traveling at a dangerous speed.

For a brief, yet agonizing period of time, I watched him lose control of his car and veer directly into my lane head-on.

I saw every agonizing detail of his pale white face.

And just below his chin, atop his steering wheel, nestled comfortably between his two hands was his phone.

While my life flashed before me, all I could think was this: Oh how tragic; the woman who writes about the cost of distraction was killed by a man who was texting and driving.

By the grace of God, the driver regained control and served back into his lane as my vehicle kicked up rocks along the roadside until it slowed to a stop.

I could barely finish my prayer of gratitude, when I began spitting words of raging anger at this young man. He was now long gone, probably continuing to type with the same agile fingers and careless disregard for human life that he had before he came around the curve.

I am not a violent person; I do not welcome confrontation, but how I wanted to grab him by the front of his shirt and shake him viciously until he begged for mercy. How dare you! How dare you value a stupid text message over my life?

Those words sounded vaguely familiar. I had spoken them somewhere before.

Oh, that’s right. To Myself.

I believe in being real in this space I call Hands Free Mama. For it is through my sharing that others can speak similar truths in your own lives. And through these truths we can begin to truly grasp what matters.

The truth hurts, but the truth heals.

While drowning in my overcommitted, highly distracted life approximately two years ago, I never indulged in texting while driving. However, I did allow myself to check email at stoplights when I was driving alone.

I convinced myself that it wasn’t like texting at all; I assured myself I was 100% focused on driving when the light turned green.

What a joke.

One day, as I was reading an email at a stoplight, the car in the left lane hit the gas and entered the intersection. Because I was multi-tasking, I carelessly followed his lead and began pressing on the gas. Suddenly I realized the car next to me had the green left turn arrow; my light was still red.

In that moment, I realized what I was doing was stupid. I realized what I was doing was wreckless, irresponsible, and risky. I realized this “innocent” little habit of mine, that I thought wasn’t so bad, could cost my children their mother.

I reprimanded myself the way I would have liked to scream at the texting driver who almost killed me:

How can you even think that reading a trivial email is worth risking the presence of a mother in your daughters’ lives?

Can you imagine whoever would have to break this news to your husband and parents? “I’m sorry, but Rachel was checking email on her phone and accidently drove into the middle of an intersection while the light was red.”

Seriously? You are an educated woman. What the hell is wrong with you????

It was the wake up call I needed; and I only needed it once. Thank God, I grasped it before I lived (or died) to regret that senseless habit.

I think of that decision every time my daughters and I make our 20-minute trip three times a week to my oldest daughter’s swim practice.

With my phone turned completely off, conversation flows freely. The three of us cover topics from Halloween costumes to endangered animals … from school yard bullies to American Girl dolls … from what it means to go to jail to what it means to go to heaven.

I hear my children’s dreams, their fears, their laughter and yes, sometimes their fighting. I am privy to the stories and questions of their five and eight-year-old minds and hearts, stories I wouldn’t hear (and may not even occur) if I were tied to my phone.

You see, my friends, here’s the best news of all …

When you turn off the phone and begin to connect with what really matters, like the dreams in your own head, and the conversations of the people in the backseat, you don’t even miss your phone.

This coming from someone who, two years ago, held on to her phone like an added extremity. Now there are occasions when I accidently leave home without it because my phone is not what I am connected to anymore.

And if your personal safety doesn’t provide enough motivation to abstain from your phone while driving, consider the fact that your driving habits greatly affect the driving habits of your children.

The following excerpt is taken from an article in the Washington Post entitled, “U.S. teens report ‘frightening’ levels of texting while driving.

“At a conference that U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood convened to discuss distracted driving, he urged parents to set an example for their children by paying attention to the road.

But, the report says, ‘the frequency of teens reporting parent cellphone use behind the wheel in our focus groups was striking, and suggested, in many cases, that texting while driving is a family affair.’”

As I write today’s entry, I can’t help but think about the young mother who was texting while driving on the interstate with her ten-month-old baby in the car. Tragically, neither one survived the crash that resulted from a brief texting conversation. I cannot begin to imagine the pain their family is enduring.

Perhaps we can honor their memory by sharing today’s post with as many people as we know.

Perhaps someone will read this and decide to put the phone in the glove box while driving. And perhaps in that one simple action, this person will experience a conversation, a song, or an inner thought that will remind him or her just how beautiful … and how fragile … life truly is.

Maybe it will be someone you love.

Maybe it will even be you.

******************************************************

The National Safety Council’s Statistics Department has declared Labor Day weekend as one of the busiest and deadliest times on U.S. roadways. It has been estimated that 400 people will die in traffic accidents during this Labor Day holiday period.

Because nearly one in four crashes involve cell phone use, the National Safety Council suggests the following, if tempted to use a cell phone when driving:

  • Change your voicemail greeting to indicate you are driving and will call back when safely parked.
  • Put your phone in your trunk or glove box.
  • Turn your phone on “silent.”
  • If you need to contact someone, pull over to a safe location and put your vehicle in “Park” before dialing.

And with your phone out of reach, may I suggest:

  • Conversing with someone who is riding with you.
  • Playing music and singing your heart out.
  • Cherishing a moment of complete silence.
  • Whispering prayers of gratitude.
  • Dreaming a dream.
  • Making a wish.
  • Simply feeling alive.

Let Labor Day weekend be a turning point in your life; let it be the day you put the phone away while driving.

The most meaningful connection is not found in a phone. It is either along side you or within you; all you have to do is grasp it.

*I urge you to click the “share” button below and send this to as many people as you can. Perhaps you could be the reason someone lives to see Tuesday, Sept. 6th and all the days thereafter.

Signature

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    Excellent reminder! I don’t text while driving. I don’t text at all actually, because I’m just too darn slow at it. Sometimes though, I find myself feeling bored in the car, and I contemplate who I can call just for something to do. And sometimes I do call. I need to remind myself that there are better ways to pass my time while driving. I particularly like your suggestion of cranking up the music and singing loudly. Then I can be the crazy soccer mom in the mini van dancing absurdly at the stop light. :-)

  2. 2

    says

    I loved your post when you wrote the 3 year old passenger whose Mother uses the cell phone while driving will become the 16 year old who uses her cell phone while driving. I’ve never picked my phone up in the car again.

    Indiana outlawed texting while driving this year, and I love it. It takes the temptation away! I don’t text simply because I suck at it, but I used to pick up my phone and check for messages at red lights. I realized my HEAD WAS DOWN with cars zipping all around me. How scary is that? A full sized truck could smash right into me, and I would have never seen it. My worst accident happened years before cell phones, but I was sitting perfectly still at a red light and got smashed into.

    Thanks so much for this reminder!

  3. 3

    says

    Timing is priceless as always. Alberta had a bylaw take effect today that makes distracted driving illegal. No texting, reading, calling, putting on makeup, eating, you name it. It’s very extreme, but very necessary. People all over the place don’t get it. They miss the point of safety.
    Even handsfree devices are distracting. I certainly encourage everyone to shut off the phone or turn it to silent and forget it’s there. Nothing is ever so important it can’t wait for you to stop!

    • 5

      says

      Thank you for your honesty Ami. There was a time when I thought I just HAD to check emails at stoplights, now I don’t … even when I am by myself in the car. There is hope, friend. So glad you are on this life changing journey with me.

  4. 6

    Nicole says

    I discovered your blog through pinterest and am now a Facebook follower. I’ve had the terrible habit of checking texts and emails at stoplights as well and thought I had come a long way from when I use to text and drive. I know that’s not safe and I have been touched by your posts. I am no longer going to use my phone in the car

  5. 7

    renee says

    I don’t use my phone while driving anymore (never texting bc i just don’t like it). I actually increased our landline plan to include unlim. long distance so I wouldn’t be tempted anymore (no cell service at the house). One day a man pulled out in front of me and my three children… even the slightest diatraction would have changed the outcome b.c i had very little time to react. That sealed the deal for me.

    The scariest thing i have ever heard was DH’s 18 yr old cousin tell me that texting while driving was actually safer b.c. you know you are distracted so in turn you are paying more attention. I was speechless at the time but wish npw I could go back and have a serious heart to heart with her.

  6. 8

    Jana says

    I have sent/read text messages while driving. Even worse I have done it with my kids in the vehicle. I will be putting my phone in my glove box while I drive from now on because my children, husband and myself are more important. Thank you for this.

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply