Wednesday, April 25, 2012
He was sitting at a red light, and the green truck was coming the opposite way, making a left turn with a green arrow. Without warning, a speeding car ran a red light and plowed into the truck, turning it upside down and sending it rolling toward Nick’s little black Mazda. Thankfully, Nick was able to act quickly. He threw his car into reverse and backed up a few car lengths. The truck flipped three times before landing right where Nick had been sitting. The other car went into a flat spin and ended up in the middle of a gas station parking lot.
There was no screeching of brakes, Nick said. Only the crush of metal and glass.
Nick got out of his car to see if everyone was OK. The driver of the truck was severely injured and wedged in his seat. There was gas all over the roadway, so several people acted quickly to get him out of the truck and away from danger while they waited for the ambulance.
Nick walked to the other car to check on the driver and passenger. As he walked up, the woman who had been riding in the passenger seat simply looked toward the driver and said, “He was on his phone.”
Not only did the driver not see that he was running a red light, he never saw the green truck and never even tried to step on the brakes. Because he was on his phone.
When Nick got home, he was still shaken – literally trembling. He said all he could think of on the way home was that Ava could have been in the car with him. And that, if there had been a car behind him, he wouldn’t have been able to get out of the way.
As you might imagine, our conversation that night centered on one thing: no more talking or texting while driving. And I must admit, my driving habits had been atrocious. I have a relatively long commute to work, and I would regularly make business calls on the way to and from work, and I would very frequently text while driving – sometimes I would even check my email.
I’ve seen the billboards and I’ve heard the stories about wrecks caused by driver inattentiveness. But there is something very sobering about having it happen – or almost happen – to someone you love.
Since Monday morning, I have been putting my cell phone in my purse, in the trunk, every time I get in the car. It’s an adjustment, but nothing’s more important than the little girl in the backseat. And she needs a mommy and daddy to take care of her.
Rachel Raya is director of Internal Stakeholder Communications for Texas Health Resources and Mom to Ava.