Texting and driving: Consequences that kill

DeAnna Hettinger, Staff Writer

I have no patience for texting and driving. Period.

I am not immune to the temptation, but I immediately tell myself, “NO,” and do so out loud. Always ask yourself before you get behind the wheel and begin texting, “What is so damn important that I am willing to put other people’s lives at risk, not to mention my own?”

The serious consequences of texting and driving really hit home with me one Monday afternoon in March 2014 during my routine check-in as the teacher for a kid’s after school chess program. The mood at the elementary school was somber. An inexplicable eerie and unsettling feeling was in the air. Handing me the keys to the classroom, the office manager spoke very softly, almost whispering, informing me their beloved music teacher had been killed in a fatal and horrific car accident.

The police said the distracted driver admitted to looking at his phone to read a text while driving. The result was a crumpled Toyota Camry, with two women in the backseat crushed to death. The Camry driver, who survived, witnessed the oncoming tragedy while looking in his rearview mirror and flashed his brake lights in an attempt to warn the oncoming car.

During class that day, I gently brought up the subject of texting while driving to my students. Within seconds, an older boy raised his hand and said he’s seen his parents’ fiddling with their phones while driving. The gravity of the situation was absent from the boy’s response. The kindergartners were too innocent and young to comprehend it at all. As a result of this unthinkable news, school administrators felt special counselors were needed to help the children process their feelings and emotions.

It is ridiculous of us to think that texting and driving will ever end, as people’s lives continue to revolve around their phones. To be a part of the solution instead of the problem, when you get the urge to text or check your phone while driving for whatever reason, resist it. Do it for yourself, your friends, your family, your fellow drivers and especially for the kids.