What is the cost of putting other peoples live in peril?
At 9 months pregnant, I’m trying to be a “cautious” driver. I’m being exceedingly courteous, I’m driving at an appropriate speed and I’m resisting the temptation to pummel reckless drivers who take absolutely no one into consideration but themselves. A few days ago, however, I officially hit my limit. During my one hour commute to the city for a routine check-up in the “city” (yes, I’m officially a “suburbian” and, in exchange for peace and quiet, have to suffer an insane commute into the city), I passed two people obviously texting with their head facing down and eyes anywhere but where they should have been, which was on the road. I also witnessed one car pass another in the same lane, because apparently switching lanes to pass is simply too, what… time consuming?
The final straw came when I had to lean on my horn in order to slow down an insane speedster switching in between cars to gain all of 2 inches on the car in front, to the left, and to the right of him. Him and his buddy were chuckling as they passed me on the right hand side. Had I not been driving the older of our two cars still equipped with roll down windows, I would have shouted something along the lines of “I’m 9 months pregnant, you asshole!” but unfortunately technology put a stop to that rather quickly. And should it really matter that I’m pregnant? Are people that immune to the possibility of ending the life of another fully developed human being that it would take threatening them with being responsible for death in the womb to make them adhere to the basic traffic laws? I feel like unless we all plaster portraits outside our window, driving home the fact that each person in a vehicle is someone’s mother, brother, sister, aunt, son, daughter, husband, wife, or friend – the desensitization isn’t going to stop anytime soon. How sad, is that?
Something in the water?
Maybe it’s the hormones. Maybe it has to do with the patience that comes with age and experience. Or maybe I’ve reached an age where I come to realize that shaving an extra few minutes off my commute isn’t worth risking my own life and those of people around me. Whatever the reason, over the course of the last year, I’ve noticed that there are more idiots on the road than ever before – and I have called the cops on 3 of them.
The first person I called the cops on this year was wandering around drunkenly outside my window before entering into his car and taking off. I had heard screams outside on what was a beautiful Saturday morning and, poking my head outside to see what was going on, was surprised to see a guy around 19 years old stumbling around in the middle of the road wearing nothing but a towel, his car parked on the side of the street with the driver door wide open. It turned out he was screaming to people driving by, asking if anyone had a cigarette to spare. Needless to say, no one was stopping, so, instead, he turned to inviting women walking along the sidewalk to join him in a swim. It was only when his buddy who had ducked into the grocery store, jumped back into the passenger side, that towel man hopped back in the drivers seat and took off. As soon as I realized that this guy was actually planning to drive away, I got on the phone to the cops who, thankfully, said that they had just received a similar call reporting sporadic behaviour. I quickly upped sporadic to drunken or “under the influence” of some other substance and watched in awe as towel man pulled 3 u-turns without notice and sped off in the opposite direction.
The second idiot I decided deserved to be hunted down was a motorcyclist, who, during peak traffic hours when the rest of us were stalled, bumper to bumper, decided to motor on up the shoulder of the highway. Racing past me on the left hand side, this moron was ready to slaughter anyone who may have had to pull over for an actual emergency. And last but not least, the most recent victim of my road patrol was a young guy who insisted on passing over a solid line on a two way road, rushing into oncoming traffic and putting everyone’s lives at risk. The best part was that he was driving a distinct sports car with a personalized license plate that read “Zara”, hopefully making him an easy target for police who were in the area when I made the call.
Three gals and a baby
The scariest thing I encountered this year however, was on foot as I was stepping off a sidewalk near Bay and Bloor downtown Toronto, nearly to be sideswiped by a driver who had decided against slowing down – or looking up – before zipping around the corner on a right turn. Regardless of the fact that I, and my two friends, had the right of way to cross the street, this maniac was nearly responsible for the death of three women and an unborn child.
I understand that not all of these – in fact – most of these drivers, were probably NOT on their cell phones while pulling illegal, dangerous moves that could have easily ended one or more lives. That being said, knowing that idiots like this are already on the streets making navigating a safe path a dangerous sport, my question is: What the HELL are people thinking who text and drive? Seriously? What possesses you to pick up your phone and, for even a split second, look down?
If you need to call, just call
According to the Ministry of Transportation “drivers who talk, text, type, dial or e-mail using hand-held cellular phones and other hand-held communications and entertainment devices face fines of up to $500 under Ontario’s distracted driving law.” Despite the threat of an enormous fine when caught, CBC reports that “studies estimate that distracted driving accounts for 30 to 80 per cent of collisions — and cellphone use is widely accepted as an important contributor.” Despite the huge push by the police to dissuade drivers from calling using hand held devices, I have to sign off by saying that if texting is the only viable alternative, I’d rather that people who are going to get in touch regardless, just make the call.
A family member of mine made a very good point: drivers are still legally able to sip on piping hot coffee with one hand while cruising the highway at full speed ahead and carrying on a conversation with the passenger next to them – so how is that so different from driving while talking on the phone? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an advocate of multitasking while you drive but if using one hand to make a phone call will prevent people from texting in an effort to avoid being pulled over by the cops, I’d rather they just dial and be done with it. Up the fines for texting, ten fold. It won’t solve the problem, but it would certainly make sure that any idiot who decides communication en route is necessary will look up to dial instead of down, in search of “send”.
For those out there who need a visual, check out this 30 min video put together by Werner Herzog called “From one second to the next”. The video documents the experience of various families who have been affected by, as well as those responsible for, texting and driving, and the devastating consequences it can have on everyone involved.