Just like most other teenagers I simply couldn’t wait to get my drivers license when I turned 16.
I was excited to have some freedom and some responsibility. Little did I know, driving came with a bunch of rules and regulations about where I could go and when I could do it.
One important rule was that we got rid of all distractions while we were driving.
This meant we picked a radio station, put our phones on silent and kept them in our purses before we could even put the car in drive.
Slowly, but surely, as I got older the rules became more relaxed. I was allowed to be out later, go more places and drive further distances by myself. Along with these relaxed rules came a new sense of confidence in my driving.
I no longer gripped the steering wheel until my knuckles were white and I started to feel more comfortable changing stations and even eating while I was driving.
This also meant that I started using my phone while behind the wheel. At first I would just answer phone calls from my parents or friends. Then I started making phone calls myself. This led to me reading text messages while driving and ultimately my downward spiral to distracted driving ended with me texting and driving.
I will admit up front that I am a habitual distracted driver. My iPhone has been my worst partner in crime. I have not only texted while driving but I have checked and responded to emails, taken pictures and even checked my bank account while behind the wheel.
When I sit back and think about it, I can name several times when I swerved around on the road or came close to rear ending someone because of what can only be described as my pure stupidity.
The sad thing is that even when I was so distracted while driving that I almost wrecked, I would continue to do it. And it only seemed to get worse.
I guess that when you’re young you have this idea that you are invincible… as if you can’t be broken. I supposed that I was under the impression that I wouldn’t wreck, that I wouldn’t destroy my cute little car, that I wouldn’t hurt or potentially kill myself, or, worst of all, that I wouldn’t potentially hurt or kill someone else.
Sadly, I’m not alone in this. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 58 percent of high school seniors admitted to texting or emailing while driving in an anonymous survey conducted last year.
There are stories in the news on almost a daily basis about the dangers of texting and driving.
I don’t think the reality of these dangers really hit me until now. I read an article this week about a young man whose whole life has been changed and potentially ruined because he decided to text while driving.
Aaron Deveau, 18, was convicted of motor vehicle homicide by texting last week in Massachusetts. His conviction is the first of its kind in Massachusetts and follows a fatal wreck Deveau caused in February 2011.
MSNBC.com reported Deveau was texting when his vehicle swerved across the center line and crashed head on into a truck killing 55-year-old, father-of-three Daniel Bowley.
Deveau was sentenced to two years in prison and lost his license for 15 years because of the wreck.
When I read this story, the seriousness of texting and driving became real to me.
This column would probably be more powerful had I been involved in some sort of accident because of my texting while driving.
But I can say that I am incredibly thankful it didn’t take that.
Since reading this article, I have decided I am not willing to sacrifice my quality of life, my life in general or the life of someone else because of a text message.
I have already started making efforts to cut down on things that I do to distract me while driving and I hope that this story will encourage others to do the same.
Nothing on a cell phone, tablet or PDA is so important that it can’t wait. If it is, as silly as it seems, the right thing to do is pull over.
I am not innocent and I don’t intend for this column to sound like I am preaching to my readers. I am not.
I am thankful that this article I read was a wake-up call for me. I pray that it does the same for my readers.
Texting and driving is a serious problem and it’s becoming a serious offense. Legislation is being passed across the country to try to prevent accidents like Deveau’s.
It’s important to try to make changes now, before it’s too late.