BY MARYSSA MCFADDEN
It’s Friday night, you’re headed out to meet your friends and you’re running later than you had planned. As you’re driving down the darkened road at a comfortable 50 km/h you realize you forgot to tell your friends that you’ll be late to dinner.
You grab your phone and send a quick message telling them not to order without you. It’s harmless and you only took your eyes off of the road for a second or two, so it is no big deal, right?
But now, go back in time. You take your eyes off the road, focusing instead on the words you are typing to your friend, when you hit a person.
According to the Ontario Provincial Police, drivers quickly typing those short replies to friends and hitting send are becoming the largest group of killers on the roads. Texting while driving is so dangerous, it accounted for more deaths in 2013 than impaired driving or speed-related accidents.
“Honestly, I’ve been guilty of texting and driving once or twice, but if I can avoid it at all costs I do,” said Summer Anstee, a police foundations student. “I really don’t trust myself to multi-task that way,” she said.
The sad reality is many people do not think it is a problem or, at least, believe it is not serious enough to stop doing it.
“Two of my friends text a lot while driving. Like they physically can’t put their phones down for a short drive and it doesn’t seem to matter who tells them to stop,” Anstee said.
People are so wrapped up in being connected to the rest of the world at all times that they are losing sight of what really matters, the lives of all the people who share the road with them.
Kelsey Dyals, a 23-year-old mother, had her life altered last July when a car came out of nowhere and collided with the side of her car. When she looked in the backseat to where her 15-month-old son was strapped into his car seat, she saw he was bleeding from his mouth.
After being rushed to the hospital it was discovered that her son’s brain was bleeding on the right side. He was taken into surgery where the doctors successfully stopped the bleeding. Her son is now almost two and is a normal, healthy child, but he is still on anti-seizure medication.
All of this could have been completely avoided if the driver of the other vehicle had not been reading a text message at the time of the crash.
“Teenagers think phones are the priority, but they aren’t. One text message nearly killed my son,” Dyals said.
The current fines in Ontario for texting and driving range from $60 to $500, however, Ontario legislators are attempting to change the fines to range from $300 to $1,000.
“Higher fines would help, but I think the biggest change needs to be made in the drivers,” said Christina Welham, a police foundations student. “They need to realize it is unsafe for themselves and make a conscious decision to not text and drive.”