"Two hands, Mommy!"
I look in the rear view mirror at my three-year-old's face as he insists over and over again that I need two hands. "Two hands for what, buddy?" I ask.
"DRIVE with two hands! Two hands, Mommy! Drive the car with two hands!"
I don't know why this is so important to him, but I comply. My other hand was just resting on my lap. I wasn't adjusting the radio, applying makeup, or checking my phone. But...in my heart I know that I could have been.
|These guys are my most important treasures.|
I think everyone has probably done something to distract themselves while driving, at some point. We're all human. We all have deadlines and we're all (usually) in a rush to get somewhere on time. I have put on mascara at a stoplight. I've sent text messages before leaving a parking lot. Am I proud of this? No, but I admit that I have been distracted in the past.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), of the nearly 33,000 roadway fatalities in 2012, there were 3,328 fatalities and approximately 421,000 injuries in distracted driving-related crashes. Hold up a minute. 3,328 fatalities?
That's way, way too many. In fact, one is too many.
Here's another Lincoln story - but this one isn't quite as adorable as the "drive with two hands" tale. Last week, I took the kids to the grocery store. My mom went with me, so we had a 1-to-1 adult-to-kid ratio. I figured we were pretty safe with one person in charge of each kid, so after buying food, we went to check out a nearby outdoor fountain display. The kids were fascinated by the water and were really happy to run around and stretch their legs before we drove home.
It happened so fast. One minute, Lincoln was running in circles by the water with Addie. And then the next minute, I caught his eye as he inched away from the fountain...and bolted.
This kid has always been a runner, but we've made strides. He's getting better about listening to me when I tell him he has to stop his feet because it's dangerous to run away from mommy. He may not completely understand, but he doesn't complain (much) about being required to hold hands in parking lots and not being allowed to play in our front yard. So I didn't expect this from him.
I dropped my phone and keys and ran after him as he hightailed it toward the very busy parking lot, but I could tell immediately I wouldn't get to him in time. I called him - at first stern, then pleading, and then hysterical - to tell him to STOP. His entire short three years flashed before my eyes. My heart felt like it would seize and my flip-flops felt like they were made of lead.
He finally stopped...barely a foot from the street, and cars continued to whiz past us. He was laughing. He didn't understand what he had just narrowly avoided.
I'm never going to forget that day. Because what if he hadn't stopped? What if he had run out into that busy parking lot? And what if someone had been sending a text - looking down at their smartphone screen - at that very moment, because in a parking lot the danger isn't as "real" while behind the wheel?
My baby was very nearly a statistic of distracted driving. I'm not cool with that. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Auto Alliance are striving to increase awareness about the risks of distracted driving. Will you join me and "decide to drive" every single time you get behind a wheel?
Here are my top 3 ideas to stop distracted driving!
2. Keep your phone in your purse, diaper bag, or backseat - just somewhere that is out of reach. That email or Facebook notification sound is tempting, but so not worth the risk.
3. Put a family photo on your dashboard to remind you that those you love are counting on youto keep them safe. Nothing is more important than the safety of those you love - especially not something as trivial as wearing eyeshadow, tweeting a response to a celebrity, or snagging a snack from that bag on the floor.
Your car may have all kinds of fancy gadgets designed for safety, but the truth is that the most advanced safety feature you have is yourself. Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel (two hands - as Lincoln says) - always.
Do you have the best slogan or catch phrase to make the Decide to Drive campaign pop? Enter the Decide to Drive Catch Phrase Contest between May 28 - June 13. Your words could be chosen as the official Decide to Drive campaign catch phrase, and you could win one of two $500 runner-up prizes or the $1,000 grand prize! Can’t wait to see what you come up with! Enter here: http://clvr.li/1nwa6CV
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.