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Maria’s Message: The Dangers of Distracted Driving

According to the CDC, “more than 9 people are killed and more than 1,153 people are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.” Even with a statistic like that, many of us are still convinced that a quick text at the wheel or a snack while driving is acceptable. However, just last Wednesday, Dom Tiberi of Columbus, shared his daughter’s message with the Upper School, warning us of the dangers of distracted driving with his story.

Mr. Tiberi solemnly recounted the day he found out his daughter had been involved in a horrible accident. Just hours before, he had heard her say “I love you more,” to her mother, and now she was gone. The unthinkable had happened to his family, leaving him with “a broken heart that will never heal.” The creation of Maria’s Message and Maria’s Pledge was spurred by his desire to prevent any other parent or family from having to share his experience.

The idea that stuck with me the most, however, was that it could, in fact, happen to anyone.

Although I haven’t started driving yet, I’ve seen countless examples of what I now know is considered distracted driving: talking on the phone, eating, looking for a wallet, and even fiddling with the radio with one hand on the wheel and the driver’s eyes not focused on the road. Coupled with the knowledge of the number of distracted driving accidents that occur each day, the thought of an accident is no longer implausible.

Adults and adolescents alike are culprits of distracted driving, and frankly, I’m not sure if we’re as aware as we should be.

Consider, for example, the following:

“I’m still paying attention, I’ll be fine.”

“It’ll only take a moment. What could happen that quickly?”

“I won’t actually get in an accident. That kind of stuff only happens to others, not me.”

The more we tell ourselves these things, the more deluded we become of the reality of driving. Every time we step into a vehicle, our lives are at risk.

As Mr. Tiberi said, the goal of cars is to safely get us from point A to point B. The driver’s seat is not a place to fix your mascara, send a quick Snapchat, or finish your breakfast.

While I can do my part by driving defensively and staying focused, more drivers need to take note of Mr. Tiberi’s message so the roads can become safer.

If something comes up while you’re driving, find a place to stop before you take care of it. Drive as though everyone next to you isn’t paying attention.

You are not the only one in danger if you’re distracted while driving.


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