Top Story

Top Story

Admit It: We All Drive Distracted
By: Aaron Burke

Distracted driving. When I first started researching the issue for the TYLA Just Drive Campaign, I began by peeking in the window of this dangerous phenomenon with a smug conviction that young people were placing their lives and the lives of the motoring public in terrible danger because they simply could not resist sending an “OMG LOL” text to their “BFF.” From this perspective, I easily distanced myself from the problem in a blissfully guilt-free manner—a scientist inspecting an interesting specimen. My premise naturally led me to the conclusion that young people, especially teens and college students, simply do not think through the consequences of chatting on the phone or texting while driving.

Then I began ruminating on the reams of research our team gathered for this project, and the statistics began to hit close to home: At any given second in the U.S., 660,000 drivers are using a mobile phone or manipulating an electronic device while driving. Every day in the U.S., at least nine people are killed and more than 1,100 people are injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. Driving with hands-free devices does not magically or substantially decrease your distracted driving risks. Ten percent of all crashes and 18 percent of injury-producing crashes are caused by distracted driving. Drivers in their 20s make up 27 percent of distracted drivers in fatal crashes. The list goes on and on, but they all lead to one conclusion: Distracted driving is a problem that all of us face.

After digesting dozens of articles and hundreds of statistics, conducting an entirely unscientific poll of the distractedness level of my fellow Dallas drivers (who everyone knows are basically professional drivers), and unintentionally leaving my lane in Dallas traffic when trying to change a radio station on my phone, it hit me like a two-ton passenger sedan:

I am part of the problem.

Sitting in my pickup in Dallas traffic, and feeling like a sailor at a tent revival, my mind came to grips with this revelation. I made a resolution to be more cognizant of my habit of driving distracted—especially my own personal weakness of checking e-mails, text messages, and changing radio stations. Perhaps in a true fit of atonement (which I have regretted several times since), I also told my wife of my commitment to avoid driving distracted. Now, on any given drive, I continuously remind myself that calls, texts, and e-mails can wait. My wife also has to remind me from time to time with an almost perverse satisfaction at catching me in my hypocrisy.

In this fashion, I have discovered a simple recipe for avoiding distracted driving: (1) admit that I am part of the problem, (2) commit to try my hardest to drive distraction free, and (3) to let those I love and care about know about my commitment.

Our TYLA Just Drive Campaign team had the honor of meeting U.S. gymnast and gold medalist Gabby Douglas, who has made a commitment to drive distraction free and join TYLA’s Just Drive Campaign. Wise beyond her years, she tells us that she turns her phone on “Do Not Disturb” when she is driving, so she is not tempted to pick it up while on the road.

I hope that you will join me and countless others in committing to make every effort to drive distraction free and telling those you love and care about to do the same. Please join the TYLA Just Drive Campaign, today!

Views and opinions expressed in eNews are those of their authors and not necessarily those of the Texas Young Lawyers Association or the State Bar of Texas.

Submit an Article

Interested in writing an article for eNews?

Contact Us

Connect With Us