Fifteen years ago, on a trip to the mall, my daughter and I were hit at the crosswalk by a distracted driver who was under the influence of prescription drugs that warned against operating a motor vehicle.

At one end of the crosswalk, a group of pedestrians waited, hesitant to cross. An SUV had stopped several feet from the yield sign, music blaring, while the driver fixed her hair. The SUV driver looked up and waived everyone to cross the street. As we began to cross, my daughter’s shoe came off. I shouted out to the driver and raised my hand up as I grabbed her shoe.

As I bent down to carry my daughter the rest of the way, I heard a woman scream. I stood up and saw the SUV coming full speed at me, inches away from my body. Everything happened so quick. I didn’t have time to react. I held onto her SUV with every strength that I had and repeatedly hit the hood to keep myself from sliding under her car. Finally, I got her to stop. Frantically, I started looking for my daughter, but I couldn’t see her anywhere. I started yelling hysterically, asking where my daughter was, No one responded, everyone was in shock.

After a moment of silence, I heard my daughter struggling to breathe beneath the car. I instantly ran from the hood to the side of the car and pulled my daughter out from underneath the SUV. Her body was severely injured. I held her tight and screamed for help. I thought I was going to lose her as I watched her struggle to breathe. An officer came to our aide from the mall nearby until the ambulance came to take her to Children’s National Hospital. My daughter fell into a coma. Doctors said we had a 24-hour window to know if she would survive or not.

My daughter pulled through the night and had a long recovery from the head-on collision. She was 3 years old when the SUV hit her, and now she is 18. She was too young to remember this horrific day, but I hold these memories because both of our lives could have been taken from a distracted driver. There are others who have fallen victim to distracted drivers, whose lives were lost, or who sustained serious or life-threatening injuries as a result of a preventable accident.

Are you a distracted driver? Do you know someone who has been distracted while driving? I know that I have witnessed friends and close loved ones distracted by their phones and live streaming on social media while driving.

What is distracted driving? It refers to the act of driving while engaging in other activities which distract the driver’s attention away from the road. Distractions are shown to compromise the safety of the driver, passengers, pedestrians, and people in other vehicles.
Based on the 2019 driving statistics:

  • The pressure to respond to work-related messages while driving is common among adults aged 18 to 34 (37% of respondents compared to 25% of the national average among all age groups)
  • Parents with young children were more likely to be distracted while driving (87%) than were adults with no small children (74%).
  • Taking photos while driving was admitted by one in three female drivers.

The same study also uncovered differences between Android and iPhone users’ distracted driving behavior:

  • Claiming they never get distracted while driving: 23% of Android users, 16% of iPhone users and 38% of users of other mobile operating systems make this claim
  • Streaming and social media use is more than twice as likely from iPhone and Apple Carplay users than Android users. Admitting they watch YouTube videos: 10% of iPhone users and 4% of Android users admitted to this distracted driving habit

What does this mean? Drivers are not paying attention, additional driving education, training and awareness is needed. Educate yourself on distracted driving and save lives. Click here to learn more about defensive driving awareness.

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