POSTED BY: BOB KNOTTS
Several years ago, I was in a car accident. Only a fender bender, luckily — but I caused it and got a traffic ticket for following too closely. My mistake? I got distracted, probably for no more than 3 seconds as I drove beside the South Florida ocean and gazed toward something by the sea. Traffic in front of me had stopped abruptly, I had noticed too late. Boom.
The older I get, the more aware I become of how distracted I often am inside a car. Not just by cellphones, which I tend to avoid behind the wheel whenever possible. No, I also find myself distracted by good music or by looking at the scenery as I did that day at the Atlantic Ocean. Or by drinking coffee in the car or by reaching for something I want or simply by a preoccupation with my thoughts and feelings. Or … the list goes on.
I’m working at stopping this behavior in no small part because the Humanity Project created our own program to combat distracted driving among teens. How can I be a hypocrite by not practicing what we preach at this organization? I shouldn’t. Though we tend to take driving far too casually in the United States, the reality is that it’s by far the most dangerous thing most of us will ever do. Each time we set foot in a car we also put at risk our property, our health and our very lives … as well as our freedom. Ask those serving time in jails and prisons for serious traffic infractions what I mean.
I’m writing about all this today for a good reason: Next month is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. It’s a good chance for drivers of any age to heed the wake-up call from the Humanity Project and the many other organizations working to stop folks from driving while paying attention to something else. Our great friends at State Farm are the main sponsor of the Humanity Project program I mentioned, which is called I Care: Just Let Me Drive. Like us, State Farm is spreading the word about the dangers of distracted driving through efforts that include their consistent support year in and year out for I Care.
We are very grateful for their funding, the money that makes it possible for us to continue expanding I Care — a program that reaches now into Florida teen traffic court and into high schools from Tallahassee to Jacksonville to Miami. And still growing, thanks in part to the help from our partners at Florida SADD and their dynamic state leader, Danielle Branciforte. During April, we’ll be reminding you about National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. For now, the Humanity Project just wanted to let you know about the important attention that will be devoted all next month to a very serious issue. As for me, well, you may be happy to hear that I’ll be trying even harder to stay focused whenever I’m on the roads. It’ll be a lot safer for all of us that way.