I was recently in the passenger seat driving with my son who has his L. A few blocks from our house, on a fairly deserted road, I felt a wave of panic as I thought about a story I had posted for The Chief earlier.
Had I misspelled that simple word? I could just imagine the stream of nasty comments that would follow, pointing out the error. I grabbed my phone and double-checked the story. No spelling error. Whew.
But as we pulled into our driveway, a new wave of ice-cold panic took over.
What if in those seconds I was distracted, my son had made a mistake I could have caught and got into a crash? Or worse yet, what if he’d hit a teen wearing the adolescent uniform of all black who was running across the street without looking?
I was supposed to be paying total attention to how my son was driving. That is the duty of the adult in these situations.
In addition to the horror of hurting someone else, I know what that kind of mistake does to the driver responsible. A relative who hit and killed a motorbike rider on a country road, spiraled into a life of addiction that he is still working to come out of, many years later.
Similarly, years ago, while attending an AA meeting in support of a friend (in another community), I met a young woman who had also caused a serious crash, which had led her down a rabbit hole of shame and self-loathing.
These stories have made me a very cautious driver and yet I slipped over a spelling mistake, and in front of my son — the next generation of drivers.
I was teaching my son the worst lesson: that the phone was more important than operating a two-tonne metal machine.
Provincial government estimates are that distracted driving accounts for about one in four crash fatalities.
And cell phones certainly aren’t the only ways to be distracted while driving: changing the channel on the radio, or eating — I see some of you at the stoplight chowing down at the wheel after pulling out from McDonald’s — are equally dangerous.
A recent Research Co. and Glacier Media survey found that 55% of B.C. respondents said that during the previous month they had witnessed a driver talking on a cellphone or texting while driving.
Drivers caught using an electronic device while driving can be hit with a $368 ticket and earn four penalty points.
In the survey, 54% of respondents would like to see a driver lose her license for a year if caught using an electronic device.
I would like to see such tougher penalties. Not just to protect those who may be injured or killed by these distracted drivers, but to protect the drivers from themselves.
As for me, I have started putting my phone in the trunk when I drive or am a passenger with my son. That way there is no temptation to pick it up — spelling mistake or not.