Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Thank You Oprah, Seriously

Good morning. Every once in a while, I will attempt writing on an issue which humor cannot temper. This happens to be one of those times.

Today I am going to turn over a new leaf. After years of being a master of talking on the cell phone and driving at the same time, I am not going to make or receive calls for the rest of my driving days while at the wheel. As a matter of fact, I'm even going to change my outgoing message to include "I may not be able to take your call now because I'm behind the wheel and don't want to be distracted" as a reminder to myself and maybe a subtle message to others.

This is the least I can do myself to show thanks to Oprah Winfrey for her show yesterday on the deadly consequences of driving while texting or using a cell phone.

I watched a middle aged father in tears recalling the call he made to his son's cell phone, only to have the call disconnected before a voice was heard. His son's voice was never to be heard again. The boy was killed instantly attempting to answer his dad's call after picking up the phone which had fallen to the floor.

Several years back, when my middle baby worked for MADD headquarters in Dallas, my wife and I had a chance to visit her office and walked the floors. Pictures of the dead wallpapered the hallways -- mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, babes and moms, grandmas, families screamed quietly to the problem of drinking and driving. To some degree the carnage of drinking and driving has been addressed, but much more needs to be done.

The consequences with texting and talking while driving can be the same as drunk driving. Lose lose situations for anyone involved. So parents, teach your children well. Mom's, don't do the cell phone while behind the wheel. The little person behind you in the car seat is watching and learning. Big brothers and sisters of 16, 17 and older, don't text and drive, don't use the cell phone and drive. Your little brother or sister wants more than a picture of you as they grow up. They'll want your friendship and support. They'll want you!

Obviously more has to be done with the laws to stop the killing fields. Would be a big plus to see more from the manufacturer's of cell phones and carriers speaking to this subject. Schools can do their part too, but in reality it all starts at home. Until each of us does what we can inside our own car, and with our kids before the car keys are turned over to them the first time the problem will not go away.

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