The Way I See It – distracted driving

The current oil boom has helped make Midland and Odessa the fastest growing cities in the entire country according to bussinessinsider.com. Along with the massive influx of people are all the vehicles that brought them here. While the boom has been great for our economy, it’s been terrible for our roads. With more people on the road, distractions are causing more accidents.

Several years ago, it was easy to get around town and not have to worry about whether some idiot was going to come out of nowhere and ruin your day. Today, not so much.

It’s become a hobby of mine to take a note of how many people I see driving while they’re using a cell phone, or doing their makeup, eating or any of the other various things that distract people from what should be the most important task of the moment.

To state it simply: there are too many people on the road who aren’t paying attention, and they’re going to seriously hurt someone.

This isn’t to claim that I am above it all. I’ve used my cell phone while driving, and I’ve been distracted by other things too. I’ve also paid for that mistake. I’ve been the jerk who ran into another vehicle because I wasn’t paying attention. I learned that expensive lesson the hard way.

We all feel like we’re the most important person in the world. But we all need to be aware that there are other people on the road. That phone call or text message isn’t so important that it can’t wait for you to respond safely.

There were 3,520 accidents on Midland’s roads alone in 2013. That number is actually down 3,723 from in 2012 but fatalities and injuries both increased, from 16 to 20 and from 1,110 to 1,120 respectively, despite the drop in accidents. These fatalities and injuries are only going to continue increasing as more people move into the area.

Many states have enacted “hands free” cell phone laws. Unsurprisingly, Texas, has not. Such bills have been shot down in the state legislature time and time again. After all, we like our freedoms down here.

But, with this freedom comes some responsibility. You cannot expect other drivers to look out for you. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has been told to treat other drivers like they have no idea what they’re doing behind the wheel.

Defensive driving is safe driving. Attentive driving is safe driving.

It’s simple really. Put down the phone; it will still be there at the end of the drive. Use the turn signals; they’re not there for decoration. Go with the flow of traffic.

Speeding can be dangerous, but going so slow that the flow of traffic is impeded can be just as dangerous. Nothing is more important than personal safety.

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