Make the promise to give driving your full attention

Barbara Hoffman,
Executive Director
Red Means Stop Traffic Safety Alliance

It’s time to alter bad driving behavior or get off the roads.
When watching the news, I am shocked at all the car crashes and lives lost each day. Maybe I am more aware of these poor statistics because I lost my 14-year-old son to a red-light running crash. The man who killed my son only got a ticket for running the red light but no punishment for killing my son. The pain of losing a child has motivated me to take a stand. I now run a nonprofit called Red Means Stop Traffic Safety Alliance, because it gives me a platform to voice my opinion and to help save lives by striving to change bad driving behaviors.
What scares me is that I ask my friends and family if they ever see red-light runners and they all say, “Yes, unfortunately.”
Arizona is one of the worst states in the country for red-light running. Even the innocent Waymo cars get hit by drivers who run red lights. In the past month, red-light runners have hit Waymo self-driving cars, including the latest last weekend when five other cars were struck by the impaired driver who was arrested on the spot. While the news covered those collisions, countless others have gone unnoticed. It just goes to show how reckless or careless some drivers can be, and the risk we take on the road when so much is out of our hands if another driver is going to drive intoxicated or run a stop sign or red light.
There’s the old saying, “accidents happen,” but there is no such thing as a car accident. Ninety-four percent of crashes involve human error. The majority of car crashes we learn about are from bad choices drivers make, and driver error seems to be at an all-time high.
Texting, talking and surfing the net while driving is dangerous. Many people believe they can multitask, but studies such as one done at MIT, prove that the brain is really hopping from one task to the other. Some may jump quicker than others, but no one can really multitask. During that small gap in concentration, people miss things such as the color of a red light. When asked, they won’t remember running a red light. Why? Their brain was on another task.
Car manufacturers have been working hard to make our cars safer by adding blind spot monitoring, lane keeping, collision alerts and airbags. Heck, your steering wheel might even vibrate to alert you to get back in your lane. Cars are safer than ever, but the number of fatalities keep climbing. What is causing that epidemic? And what can we do?
The Red Means Stop Traffic Safety Alliance is launching a pledge that I hope you and your family will consider signing. Http://redmeansstop.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/DISTRACTED-DRIVING-PLEDGE-Form-1.pdf. Make the promise to all of us that you will give driving your full attention.
The bottom line is that if drivers do not want to pay attention to driving, they need to find another way to get around on “our shared” roadways. Call a taxi, ride a bus, rideshare or let’s hope that self-driving cars are more available soon, before every family is touched by this traumatic epidemic.

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