EDITORIAL

Make a resolution to drive safer

Posted

As a new year begins we look collectively forward in a direction that, ideally, will be marked by progress in all aspects of life – whether that be in a bigger picture way societally, economically, sociologically or just in your own life personally.

Allow us to recommend a New Years’ Resolution that doesn’t require a gym membership, a strange diet you learned about from a celebrity or forcing yourself not to swear so often. In fact, it could be the most important yet easy to accomplish resolution there is.

Pay attention to the road every time you drive and, please, stop pretending that a distracted driving accident simply cannot happen to you.

Stats reported out recently by the Rhode Island State Police are nothing short of alarming, as they represent the highest number of vehicular fatalities in the state in five years, and almost double the amount of people killed in either of the past two years. Instead of progressing in this area, we are becoming more reckless on the roads.

Eighty-three people didn’t live to see the ball drop on 2018 because they were killed in a car crash – compared to 51 last year and 45 in 2015.

Some of these victims were drunk, and shouldn’t have been behind the wheel at all. Some could have been saved had they worn their seatbelt as required by law (both state law and the more objective law of instinctual self-preservation). Some, most tragically, were taken due to medical conditions or the bad decisions of other motorists out of their control.

However the choice to drive and not become distracted by your cell phone is always in your control.

The world has changed, and so have the people living within it. We are connected to our mobile devices in ways that we never imagined possible just a decade ago when the first buggy smart phones came to the market. What has since become a revolutionary communications device while standing still has simultaneously become a revolutionary weapon of mass distraction while on the road, and the results are deadly, without exaggeration.

It doesn’t matter if you text friends, send work emails, browse Facebook or send Snapchats. It doesn’t matter if you’re taking video for your blog or fidgeting to update directions in your phone’s GPS system. It doesn’t matter how you hold the phone, how long you look at it or whether or not you only check it when you stop – utilizing your phone while driving makes you an unequivocally worse driver, and there are no shortage of studies which have demonstrated that.

If you need to make a phone call, there’s a good chance that your car has some form of Bluetooth capability built into it if it has been recently manufactured. If not, Bluetooth adapters that plug into cigarette lighters can sell for as low as $5 online. There is no reason why you should have to physically hold your phone while driving anymore, as phone holding apparatuses are available at every conceivable retail store as well.

In some cases, otherwise cautious people become indignant when behind the wheel. They will say that they’re not being reckless, or that they are careful enough to not let their cell phone use affect their driving. The simple matter of fact is that this overinflated confidence will not prevent you from becoming involved in an accident, and you are drastically increasing your chances of being in one, or causing one, by using your phone.

The stubbornness to simply not answer someone until you have arrived safely at a destination is simply mind-boggling. It is important to remember how – although you may be bored during a drive – the activity itself is incredibly risky and there is only a thin margin for any error.

Within those margins are peoples’ lives. Make a resolution to stay safe, and keep others safe, through your actions on the road in the New Year.

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