Posts Tagged ‘Texting while driving’

Just Turn Right

March 17, 2014

Right-Turn-Only-Traffic-Sign-K-1829I don’t normally publicize my own wrong-doings and misdeeds. What’s the point? I need to do it this time. This may seem trivial to some and possibly unnecessary to most. To me, this is important.

Friday I went to a church activity (I’m one of the leaders of the church I attend). During a break my wife and I were talking to a mother and her daughter in our congregation. You see, the daughter, “M,” and my daughter, Hannah, go to the same elementary school and we are quite close with her family. Each morning before work, I drop Hannah off at school. Last week “M” was volunteering as a student crossing guard. You know, the ones with the bright “STOP” signs on the wooden pole that walk out when students are crossing the street. During the conversation, I mentioned to “M” that I saw her but commented that she didn’t see me. Exasperated, she exclaimed that she did see me. She added that as I turned left out of the school parking lot, the adult crossing guard was “maaaaaad at me.”  I asked why, and she explained that the crossing guard was upset that I didn’t obey the “Right Turn Only” sign that was clearly posted. Confused and somewhat taken aback, I countered (I’m now arguing with an 11-year-old) “but tons of people turn left there, not just me….What did I do that was so much worse than what everybody else did?”  Her reply, was simple and piercing. “Nothing, she gets mad at everybody that turns left there.”  We bantered back and forth as I tried to explain and justify my defiance. My wife added there was even a recent plea in the school newsletter. In the end, I’m not sure how the conversation ended, but ever since it did, I have been unable to shake the guilt and remorse I feel.

First, I’ve been a poor example. I realized the poor example I was setting for “M” and all the other children when I  obey some laws and choose to break others. I magnified my poor example by my attempts to explain away my disobedience. That was not fair to her, and for that I apologize. Obedience to the law is mandatory, and nobody—especially me—is above that requirement. She was the example to me when I should have been to her. I’m sorry “M.”

If not for ourselves, we owe obedience to the driving laws (and other safety rules) to our children. I still remember the time my mom got a speeding ticket. Even though my mom was generally a good driver, this single experience justified my teenage choices to blatantly disobey speeding laws. “If mom can do it, why can’t I?” With every rule we parents choose to break, we justify our children’s future disobedience. We must demand obedience from ourselves today if we ever expect obedience from our children tomorrow.

Second, I’ve been a hypocrite. As a personal injury attorney, a safety advocate, and a community blogger, I preach adherence to safety rules, all of them. Whether related to speed, direction, following distance, impairment or distractions these rules are necessary to keep us safe and to protect us from harm. Me must follow them–there is no option or justification for disobedience. This applies even to the rules that “everybody breaks” or the laws that seem, to us, unimportant.

I shudder to imagine the potential consequences of my choices. Fortunately, the only effect was an embarrassing realization that I was a poor example to someone who looked up to me and a poor example to the adult who knew I should have acted more responsibly. Thankfully I can apologize to them and make more responsible driving choices in the future. Luckily my choice to disobey the law did not cause greater harm or injury to one of my daughter’s classmates. I couldn’t fix that result.

I’m happy to say that I turned right this morning. Thanks “M.”


Sounds good my man, seeya soon, I’ll tw

April 29, 2013


You may have already seen this picture. That’s okay. You may even know why this seemingly unimportant text message has been all over the internet for over two weeks. That’s great. Perhaps you don’t need the reminder. But if you do, please pay attention.  It could save your life, or mine.

If you don’t know, Alexander Heit never finished his text message.  His car drifted into oncoming traffic before his eyes returned to the road.  He swerved.  His car reacted.  The laws of physics were too much.  It rolled.  Game over.

Despite laws aimed at protecting us from our own stupidity, this senseless pattern plays out over and over again in our communities. I will never forget the time I was the first responder to a head-on two car motor vehicle crash just outside of Amboy, Washington. From a distance, it looked as if a suburban had drifted off the roadway, over-corrected, and collided with the truck coming the opposite direction. We stopped.  Told our kids to stay in the car. Called 911 and ran to help. I put my fingers to the Suburban driver’s neck. Clearly nothing I could do. “She’s gone, we can’t help her.” The words echo in my mind still today. I’d never “declared” someone dead before, and quite honestly hope never to do so again. It’s not pleasant. Before running to the truck, I saw her cell phone. It was open on the dash.

It took nearly an hour for us to get the three motorists (a grandfather, father, and grandson) out of the truck. We assisted paramedics in loading the grandfather onto a backboard and carrying him back up the steep embankment and loaded into the ambulance. I will never forget that day–how could I?

We need not look far to see someone texting or e-mailing on their phones while driving. Perhaps the driver across the street is wondering what’s for dinner. Maybe the driver next to us forgot to get milk. Maybe the driver in our own car is running late and wants to let someone at home know. These drivers end up on my desk. They cause my clients’ crashes. In fact, before trial I ask for the defendant’s cell phone records in almost every case I handle. I know jurors hate “texters” almost more than they hate trial attorneys.

How much longer will we allow this to endanger our roads? AT&T has a campaign to curb texting and driving.  They call it “It Can Wait.”  They have videos, testimonials, stories, and even simulations. Check it out: Watch a video. Share it with your friends and loved ones. They’re powerful and influential. No text message is worth the risk of life-changing disaster.

I, along with them,encourage, invite, urge, admonish you to take the It Can Wait pledge. Make Safe our roads one pledge at a time. Will you take the pledge? Let us all do so in the comment box.

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