Director Jewels: The Day I Almost Lost Lincoln + 3 Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Day I Almost Lost Lincoln + 3 Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving




"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!

1. Make a car-wide no gadget policy - whether you're the driver or passenger. My kids don't watch movies in the car unless we are on a long road trip. If they're not used to seeing screens in a car all the time, maybe when they learn to drive, the idea will be crazy to them.

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.

36 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness, how terrifying. I wish there was a way to make phones inoperable while inside a vehicle.

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  2. Scary! I'm so glad he's okay! Yes, it's crazy what people will do in their cars, forgetting that their vehicle could be a killing machine!

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    1. I know...frightening to even be on the roads sometimes!

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  3. Gosh, I have been there. So thankful he's alright <3

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  4. wow, glad he's alright. Ever hear of the red thumb reminder? It's a neat idea to help cut down distracted driving incidents

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    1. I haven't heard of it - will have to look it up, thanks!

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  5. I'm so glad he's okay! Distracted driving can be so dangerous!

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  6. Yikes! How scary! So thankful that he is okay and safe :)

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  7. I had a child that was a runner- it does get better. We actually had to use a controlled situation to scare him into knowing the dangers of running away and getting lost.

    I had a similar story- we were inside Cold Stone at a play group meet up and Colton bolted for the door, at just barely 2, pushed it open and Bolted for the street. I knew he wasn't going to stop, and I HAD to get to him. I almost fell in the process, but I caught him, right before he hit the busy parking lot. I know the feeling of why wont my legs move faster- are my feet GLUED to the ground?

    We had issues with him deciding to run away at Disney World. Luckily my fiance is fast and ran after him-- but it was a nightmare until about last summer. It only took one time of him realizing mommy wasn't chasing after him and him :thinking: he was lost for him to start listening, and staying with us.

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    1. Thank you for this. I think we may have to do something similar as Lincoln just does NOT grasp that there is any danger in running away from me. Sigh! He is definitely giving me gray hair.

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  8. These are some really great tips. I am dreading when my twins start walking because I don't know how I'll handle 3 kids!

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    1. Oh goodness...I don't know how I would handle that, either! Good luck, mama!

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  9. It is scary how fast something can happen... it just takes a driver not being aware for a moment. So glad he was okay.

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  10. Oh, how scary. I have a runner. And I think his little brother may turn out to be one, too. This campaign is wonderful.

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    1. Having runners is terrifying and I don't think people always understand unless they have one, too.

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  11. This is a great campaign. I generally put my purse next to me because I sit at a lot of red lights and often seem to need something out of it while I sit (not while driving!)

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    1. My purse or diaper bag is usually beside me, too.

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  12. how scary. it's amazing how life can change in a matter of moments

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    1. I know it. So grateful that I just came away from this with a scary story.

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  13. I tend to keep my phone in my purse on the floor of the passenger seat so I couldn't reach it even if tempted.

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  14. I can only imagine how you felt when that happened.
    These are some very valuable tips. I have Bluetooth capabilities in my vehicle and LOVE it. Now my phone can stay in my purse so I just get phone calls, but that is fine! I feel a lot safer being able to use it. However, prior to that, I was never very comfortable driving and talking on the phone.

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    1. I am guilty of talking on my phone while driving because it SEEMS less dangerous than texting. I don't know that that's necessarily true, though. I'd love to have Bluetooth.

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  15. That is so so scary! Thank God he stopped. Still feel shivers down my spine!!

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    1. Every time I think about it, I just about go numb. It was so awful! :(

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  16. If I so much as glance at my phone or pick it up w/ C in the car, she gets on to me, so I just dont!

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    1. With Lincoln reminding me to put "two hands on the wheel" all the time, this is pretty much where I am, too.

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  17. I'm so glad he's OK - I have gotten better about checking my phone in the car - only at red lights!

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    1. I'm trying to do better and avoid looking at my phone while driving at all...it's tough some days, though.

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  18. Sometimes a little warning is all it takes to set us straight.

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  19. Praise God your little one stopped before hitting the busy street! What a scary situation! Those are wonderful tips and you are so right, the best and really the only reliable safety measure is your undivided attention! A split second and everything could change. I love hearing about my daughters' day after school but I have to remind them that I have to keep my full attention on the road.. It's always hard for my 7 year old who wants to share immediately. I appreciate your candor in this post and agree, we've all allowed ourselves to be distracted but when you think about the possible consequences nothing is worth the risk.

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  20. I would have been scared out of mind. Thanks for these great tips.

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