Speak Up. Act Louder. #DecideToDrive

There are those moments in life that we wish we could do-0ver. A mistake. An accident. And there are those times that are no accident. Maybe it’s one you’ve seen, or been a part of. Either way, it’s something we can all attest to witnessing and (most likely) taking part of: distracted driving. The cell phone in hand, the make-up brush, a razor, a breakfast sandwich or quick bite of lunch, being under the influence, or even driving when emotionally upset are all incidents I’ve seen… and all reasons that non-accidental crashes occur. Being a part of this series in conjunction with The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Auto Alliance, is incredibly important to me for a number of reasons- the most important being: Adelaide. Wanting to increase awareness about the risks of distracted driving means more than just writing about it, but me making a more conscious move to practice. I made the decision to Decide to Drive. I want to increase awareness about the risks of distracted driving and 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. While driving, I’ve taken to using the voice operated options on my phone, yet I’ve come to realize I am still not 100% focused on the most important thing I am doing: driving. The most advanced safety feature my car comes with, is me- My mind, my ability to make quick decisions, which could protect myself and my passengers from crashes, injury and even death. One of the scariest facts? 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. #decidetodrive #aisforadelaide #clevergirls #joinme Last year, when I was rear-ended by a texting driver I remember the first thing I did was throw my body around as I heard a sharp scream come from my backseat. Addie and I were on our way to run errands and then meet a friend for lunch. I’d passed a young driver who was going much slower than the usual early lunch-rush traffic, noticing as I looked into his driver side window, that he was looking down at his phone with just one hand on the wheel. It was a warm day- his window rolled down- yet I resisted the urge to honk to alert him to the road ahead, choosing instead to remain in a different lane. Traffic barely slowed, as we came closer to a curve in the highway, so I took my foot gently from the gas when we were hit. I let my vehicle lurch a bit forward to decrease the impact of their car to mine and the heft of slamming on the brake pedal. But I moved fast as my sweet girl, just over a year, let out a curdling scream. All traffic slowed. The driver came from their vehicle and asked if we were ok, “I just looked down for a second,” they’d stammered. I managed not to scream, as I motioned to Addie. “There’s a child here. Your second could have been her life.” I grabbed my cell phone and called 9-1-1. Before pulling over, I snapped pictures of our vehicles for the record. A firetruck pulled over to wait for the police with us, and after I’d given my information- throwing it all at the officer- I pulled back onto the highway to take the exit for the children’s hospital about 100 yards away. We were there in less than 5 minutes, met by my husband. “Don’t take her out,” I snapped. I was sweating, angry and feeling sore myself, but with my worry just about Addie. Hours later, after multiple neruo tests and physicals, a phone call to her specialists in Delaware and a conversation with her pediatrician, we were released for home. In the case of any collision, most carseats need to be replaced. Ours came with a stroller- which was also replaced. The rear damage was substantial, leaving us in a rental for a little over a week. But we all walked away. The outcome in any other moment could have been very different. #aisforadelaide #shop #decidetodrive #clevergirls How can situations like this be avoided? It’s simple: remove the distractions. Make the decision to #DecidetoDrive. In that one second you choose to glance at your own reflection, drive even though you don’t feel right, ignore the posted speed limit, or check your email is the second you’ve given up control. In those fractions of a moment you’ve chosen to risk your life and the lives of others- to divide your attention- you could end up a statistic. Help me increase awareness about the risks of distracted driving and empower drivers and passengers to speak up about distracted driving- continue this conversation at home and work. Let’s reduce distracted behaviors behind the wheel. For more information, please check out The American Academy of Orthopaedic Specialists, Auto Alliance, and DecideToDrive campaign on Facebook and check back in a few weeks for more information about the Decide to Drive Catchphrase Contest running from May 30-June 13!

It is your turn to share your creative plan and submit your most awesome idea to the Decide to Drive Catch Phrase Contest! Your words could be chosen as the official D2D campaign catch phrase, and you could win one of two $500 runner-up prizes or the $1,000 grand prize! Running May 28-June 13 (2014)- Share your wisdom

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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  1. says

    Thanks for this post.

    First – I’m so glad you and your daughter are ok physically, and hope the emotional impact has lessened.

    I think a lot of otherwise well-intentioned, wonderful people – who would normally cringe at the thought of somehow causing harm to others – don’t really realize the potential impact of that tiny moment their attention is diverted.

    Easy to understand, it’s just a second, and most times doesn’t result in any apparent harm done.

    Apparent being the key word. I ride a scooter – it’s my only vehicle, I don’t own a car. If I’m too tired or “fuzzy headed” I don’t take it out. Why? Because riding around on a little tiny vehicle, I am subject – every single time – to the effects of those seconds of misplaced attention.

    Not only do I have to take all the normal precautions of driving safely, I also have to watch out for the driver who happens to look up, down, over – anywhere but at the road – as they are changing a lane, turning a corner, coming to a stop… or even just driving along. Most times they don’t even notice they just forced me to come to a screeching halt, unsafely dive into another lane, or any number of similar maneuvers to prevent myself from getting hit, and blithely continue on their way, while my heart is trying to pound its way out of my chest. On occasion they do notice, I always hope that past the “forgive me” look or gesture I am given, more importantly, a mental note is made to be more cautious, to perhaps postpone doing whatever it was that distracted them until a more opportune moment.

    9 times out of 10, the cellphone is the culprit. By now, continually scanning the cars around me for drivers using cellphones, be it talking or texting, is a subliminal component (one of many) of my defensive driving skills. Which is why, as I mentioned earlier, I don’t drive my scooter if I don’t feel my mental skills are up to it – and as I have various autoimmune diseases and other health issues that frequently cause “brain fog,” that can be fairly often.

    If it’s that important – please, pull over! Yes, it might be a bit inconvenient, but coming from a driver who has to pull over to do these things, it’s really not that inconvenient! And it’s undoubtedly “less inconvenient” than the repercussions of the time that moment of distraction turns into an actual accident.

    I know what it feels like to grieve for a friend whose life was taken by one of these types of moments, and, unfortunately, I can also compare it to grieving for friends whose lives were ended too soon for other reasons. That kind of grief is hard enough in and of itself, knowing how easily it could have been avoided adds a huge component of unmeasurable anger that interferes with and greatly lengthens the grieving process.

    I’ve also seen what the loss of a child does to a parent, it’s devastating beyond belief – and all to often subsequently causes the breakup of marriages and other such things – the impact of that moment rarely stops there, it tends to ripple on far and wide.

    And last, but most definitely not least, I know what it’s like to grow up without a mother, mine was killed by a drunk driver when I was two. It’s pretty much impossible to describe what that’s like – and as much as I am aware of how that has affected my life and who I am, I know there are so many other ways it’s affected my life of which I am not aware. Nor was just my life changed forever in that moment – three other children lost their parent and two spouses lost their partners, as the drunk driver died in the accident as well.

    Please, hug someone you care about today for a long, long moment, and imagine how you’d feel if suddenly they were gone. And then help keep that stay nothing more than an imagination. There’s so much in life we have little to no control over – driving drunk, driving distracted… those are things we can control. Choices, one might say, but I disagree – they shouldn’t be choices, simply things we do not do!

    OK, time to get off my “high horse” (trust me, driving skills aside, there’s plenty in my life I need to work on!), hug someone you love and have a beautiful day!

  2. Shell says

    great reminder. in this day and age of constant distraction and multitasking, we need to remember this.

  3. Michelle Carnevale says

    Chelley, this is so important. I’m so glad you wrote this blog about your experience. About a week ago, I was in the next lane from a young woman who had a child, not even school aged, in the back seat. She was , head down, glued to her phone, at the red light. The traffic started to move, she inched ahead, glanced up, then stopped..whew… The light changed, I proceeded to move because I was making a left hand turn…she, however, thought she could go as well. She never looked up, she gunned the accelerator…she smacked the older man in front of her…quite hard. I slowed down to let the gentleman know that the girl was on her phone and never looked up. He pleaded with me to stay and wait for the police and fill out an accident report for him…Damn…I was headed to Wickford for lunch on the water with a dear friend…I was barely on time as it was…I consented. The girl yelled at me…”You can leave, you don’t need to be here”, as her child, who she never even checked on, cried out loud. What is happening to people, that their phones and what’s going on on them is so much more important than “real life?” I’m so glad I stayed and helped him out and hopefully taught that young mother a lesson about what’s most important. Thanks Chelley for posting this…people can change their lives and the lives of others forever if they continue to be distracted while trying to maintain control of a large machine. Hopefully this helps.

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