Today is my birthday. I've been thinking about what I really want, and I've come up with something that won't cost you a cent. But first I want to share this story with you.
This is a difficult story to tell. This is a story that I've never shared with anyone. To my knowledge only my mom and my husband know this story other than those involved.
Several years ago, my mom and I had a chance to go to dinner alone. Since the Darlings were born, we so rarely have time alone together because she's in TX and I'm in MN. We chose a low-key, elegant, local spot; we got dressed up; and we left Will with the Boys for the evening.
As I drove, we casually chatted. A few blocks from my house I noticed an ice cream truck parked on the side of the street, but didn't see anyone else nearby. As I drove past the ice cream truck a child suddenly appeared around the front of the truck. He was running...fast.
The next few seconds are a blur in my mind and always have been. I'm aware that my mom was screaming. I don't recall screaming, but she said I was. I remember pushing the brake pedal as hard as I could. I recall pleading with God not to allow this to happen. And I saw my children flashing before my mind's eye.
As I was practically standing on my brake pedal, willing my minivan to stop, I hit that kid with my car. He must have been about 10 years old. He seemed tall and skinny. My vehicle struck him at his waist. He was running so fast that he couldn't stop even after he saw me. He was at the front center of my vehicle at the time of impact. He must have turned toward us as he realized he was about to be hit because I hit the front of his body. He was thrown back about eight feet from my car and hit the asphalt.
As long as I live, I will never forget the look on his face at the moment of impact. It was a look of horror as he realized he was being hit by a car; it was a look of utter betrayal; his questioning eyes imploring why I would do this to him. It all happened within seconds, but in my mind it felt like an eternity; his face seems to stay frozen staring at me.
What happened next is utterly amazing. The boy flew back onto the asphalt, and then immediately leaped up and continued running across the street to his house. I and his family, standing in their yard, called 911; an ambulance came; police came; the boy was examined and found to be totally without injury save for a few minor bruises. The ambulance left; the police left; we left, completely rattled, but thanking God everyone was fine.
How it happened that I hit this child while he was running, he was thrown back and popped up immediately can be explained in my mind only as a miracle from God.
This event and this memory are painful to me. I do not speak of it; I do not drive down that street. I tell you this story because I want to point out to you that I was merely driving down a street I drove down every day, having a casual conversation with my mom who was sitting in the passenger seat next to me. I had seen the ice cream truck, but I could not see the kids on the other side of the parked truck. I was not distracted in the least. I quickly reacted to the situation the instant the child emerged from the blind side of the truck.
I did not do anything wrong. I was not criminally or civilly at fault. I was abiding by all traffic laws. I was not having a phone conversation. I was not reading a text or typing out a text. I was not distracted. A child simply darted out in front of my moving vehicle.
What if I had been lost in conversation on the phone? What if I had been looking at my phone and not the road when the boy ran out into the street? What if I had not looked up in time to even begin to brake? If any of these "what ifs" had been reality that day that child would have more than likely been killed.
A Risk Too High
A child, a biker, a runner, a person walking a dog, a person pushing a stroller, another car; if you are using your phone for talking, texting, checking information or any other purpose while driving a heavy metal vehicle you have a high risk of hitting, injuring and/or killing another human being. That human being could be a stranger; it could be your child; it could be you.
Do you want to take the risk of killing another human being just because you thought of something "important" to tell someone or felt the need to check the text you just received or find an email that has the address you're searching for? I think not.
There is nothing more important than life. There is NOTHING more important than life.
Please pledge today to take my Phone Down, Eyes Up Challenge. This is what I ask of you for my birthday gift today. It's not a hard decision to make. When you think about picking up your phone while driving, just think of me and my story and what might have been if I had been distracted that day. Do it for me; do it for youself; do it for your child(ren); do it for all the other drivers on the road; just do it now.
Distracted driving kills. End of Story. Over and out...
You might also be interested in the rest of my distracted driving posts: