When it comes to distracted driving, I know firsthand what it feels like to experience something so traumatic both at a very young age and as a mother with my own children. When I was eight years old, my parents and I were driving in the city within Dallas, Texas and I remember my mother being six months pregnant at the time. My father screams “Oh no! She’s not stopping!” and I feel a hard hit at the back of the car. Thankfully I had a seat belt on, but I still managed to hit my head into the seat in front of me. My pregnant mother had to be rushed to the emergency room and it was amazing to find that my baby brother was okay. It turns out the woman who rear-ended us was applying her make-up in the car while driving and failed to see the car in front of her. Both cars were damaged, and we all had bumps and bruises along with a lifetime of not-so-good memories.
Fifteen years later, all those childhood memories came flooding back again when I experienced it as a parent with my six year old son. We were driving home from school in our neighborhood and I saw a large pickup truck coming towards me on my side of the road. I realized that I didn’t see his head through the windshield! He was down under his seat and as soon as he came back up, it was too late and he crashed and hit us head on. We were traveling 10mph in a small sedan and he was traveling 50mph in his large pickup truck. The driver was busy texting someone when he dropped his phone and tried to pick it up from under his seat. There were minor injuries and the frame of our sedan was damaged so much that the auto repair shop said it was unrepairable and the car was totaled. Both my son and I were wearing our seat belts, but as he grew older he became more fearful of being on the road.
What I’ve learned from both of my car crash situations are this: the most advanced safety feature of any vehicle is the driver. Car crashes are no accident and The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Auto Alliance want to increase awareness about the risks of distracted driving. The AAOS and the Auto Alliance urges all drivers to keep their most sophisticated safety features engaged at all times: eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. 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.
The Decide to Drive campaign aims to empower drivers and passengers to speak up about distracted driving, continue the conversation at home, work and play, and reduce distracted behaviors behind the wheel. Orthopaedic surgeons—the specialists who put bones and limbs back together after road crashes and traumas—along with our partners, the automakers, would rather help all drivers “decide to drive” each time they get in the car and to keep bones and limbs intact.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.