The call every parent dreads begins like this:
“Your kids have been in an accident.”
There’s nothing scarier or more dreadful than hearing those words except for the unknown information that comes next.
Are they okay? Where are they? What happened? The questions flood your brain like rapid-fire bullets, and the answers can’t come fast enough. Guilt sets in because the number one function of a parent, protecting the kids, didn’t happen.
It’s an overwhelming feeling that’s only eased by the words, “They’re okay.”
I didn’t fully understand it until it happened to me.
My kids were riding in their mom’s Volkswagen Jetta, which was stopped at a red light. A late-model Toyota Tacoma approached, didn’t see that traffic was stopped, and collided at 30+ miles per hour into the Jetta. My son was in the front seat, and my daughter was in the back. They never saw the truck coming.
A Ford F-150 then hit the Tacoma, which sent both trucks back into the Jetta.
The accident could have ended in tragic disaster, but thankfully, everyone was okay aside from being diagnosed with whiplash. The kids are in pain and will endure physical therapy to treat their injuries, but nothing catastrophic happened.
Here’s the thing that really hit home with me: The accident was avoidable, because the driver of the Tacoma was texting at the time of the accident.
I think it’s safe to say that everyone who owns a smartphone has been guilty of texting and driving. I’ve done it even though I know I shouldn’t, but seeing first-hand how absolutely and horribly wrong it can go has left me looking for ways to break the addiction to my phone.
There are no texts or phone calls that are worth hurting anyone in my family, or potentially taking the lives of children. With the use of a smartphone almost second nature, how can we begin to break their hold on us while driving?
One of the best ways is to lock the phone in the trunk when driving. I wish the driver who hit my kids had done that.
Most drivers won’t be willing to sacrifice being completely disconnected from their phones, so other options include apps that limit the ability to text while driving.
DriveSafe.ly is a mobile application that reads text messages and emails aloud in real time and automatically responds without drivers touching the mobile phone and works for both iOS and androids. The app is free.
There are other apps, including DriveScribe, DriveOff, and DriveMode, that monitor a driver’s speed and block texts and calls while the car is in motion. The driver must activate a “start trip” function before driving, then “end trip” when he or she arrives at the destination. There are apps for both iOS and Android, and most apps are free.
Also, iOS and Android phones both have auto-respond features built in. Users need to set up the feature and activate it before driving, then turn it off when the trip is completed.
There’s definitely an “it won’t happen to me” mentality about texting and driving. I know this because I used to believe that and thought I had my texting under control. The truth is, we can’t control our cars when we aren’t watching the roads, and we can’t control other drivers who are looking at their phones instead of the cars ahead.
My kids are okay, but I know there are others who are not. Texting kills drivers and passengers far too often, but I can tell you I won’t be the person to cause the next accident.
Would you be willing to use an app that prevents texting and driving?