Stay aware while on the road

Kelly Smith

A friend of mine obtained minor injuries from a minor hit and run; people that I know have been involved in small car accidents; and I was almost hit by a car that finally stopped feet from me about twenty minutes before I sat down to write this article. There’s so much stress on all roads today. Some are honest accidents, but many are caused by a driver who simply isn’t paying attention. I realize that nobody’s perfect, but it would very beneficial if all of us, myself included, maintain a heightened state of awareness of what happens on all roads, both by car and on foot or bike.

This is a dangerous world with countless distractions that seek our full attention on the road. For many people, it’s a cell phone. For others, the music on the radio. There are even people who jam out with their earbuds on or are putting on makeup while driving! What about the people who are constantly look away for a “hot second” despite their better judgment?

I was told in driver’s ed that, statistically, a few seconds of glancing away can cause the car to drift an entire lane over. This is dangerous at various speeds, running the risk of the death by collision on the expressway and main roads or death of a pedestrian in a subdivision. A wandering can be very harmful, from cheating on a test to taking someone’s life on the road.

As I mentioned, there are many road tragedies that are accidents, and we can’t do anything about those. However, we can hold our own on the road. We all really need to get back to what we were told in our early days of driving, and that is to keep our eyes on the road. There’s always that time to glance at our fuel or speed, and there will always be those pedestrians who walk inconsiderately into traffic, but with us doing our part, life on and next to the roads will be much less stressful with much less unnecessary injuries and casualties in general.

I remember Joe Martin’s speech at the Transitions program last year about being “ugly” and confident, not “pretty” and vulnerable. He mentioned that many people would probably leave thinking, “Yeah, I’ll be ugly,” but then will get a text message that immediately shakes their confidence.

As I write this column, I’m anxious to break my bad driving habits, but how will I know that I will still feel that way the next time I get into my car? How do you know you will keep these words in mind the next time you drive? It takes time to break these bad habits and build new and better ones. We just need to have a stronger sense of what’s going on around us, not blaming somebody else for “not having their headlights on.” Hopefully, Grand Valley will promote an event of some kind that brings attention to this. Maybe then, we can all grow in road safety awareness together as a community.

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