Monday, June 27, 2016

If You See Something, Say Something

This line was used at the wellness conference attended and it was never more relevant to me than it was yesterday as I drove to Sioux City.
I had an open Sunday so I decided to visit some friends in Sioux City. I also had some Kohl's Cash and a need for some more shorts for myself and a rash guard for Cyver. Cyver and I rolled out of town around 11:45 with a bin of clothes an full water bottles. He was asleep shortly after we hit the road and I had some nice mellow tunes playing from my iPod. As we neared Meckling, I noticed a black compact car in my rear view mirror. As it got closer to me, I saw it travel over the yellow line a couple times. I also realized that it was soon going to be passing me which made me a little uneasy. The car passed me as I slowed down for the change of speed for Meckling and I felt relieved that it was past me. That only lasted a little while as I watched it weave across the opposite yellow line, across the dashed white line, drive down the center of the two lane road for sometimes 20 seconds at a time before weaving back into the other lane. Watching this kind of driving made my heart race. I told myself that I had to do something, but what was I supposed to do? I thought the police should be aware of this reckless driver but I obviously don't have the number for the Vermillion Police Department in my phone. Dialing 911 seemed extreme but, as I watched the car bounce and weave down the road, it seemed like more of an emergency with each passing second. I grabbed my phone and dialed 911 and told myself-if it happens one more time, I'm calling. It did. I repeated-just one more time. It happened again so I hit the green button my phone. I had no idea what to expect but a very kind operator answered and took all the info I could provide. They wanted the plate number but I explained that I didn't feel as if I could safely get close enough to read the plate (I tried and they were weaving too much that I worried they would wreck and I didn't want to be close to that). I continued on my route toward Vermillion constantly updating where I was as they dispatched an  officer to the area. Passing through Vermillion I watched them continue to cross the lines even as traffic grew a but heavier. Finally, they turned off by Walmart which I told the operator. I then saw an officer headed in that direction and hung up with the operator as I had given them all the info that I had. In my head the thoughts of-please don't let them hit someone continued as I drove down the road.
I have to say that I really didn't want to make that call. I could have easily just said-thank goodness they are by me, nothing more to worry about. I tried to tell myself that but it kept coming back-what if they hit someone else, and I could have stopped it with one phone call? How many other drivers saw her behavior and were just happy she didn't hit them? What if she caused an accident that killed someone? Those thoughts are why I called and they are the reason you should call too if you witness something similar. I think we are all guilty of crossing a line at one time or another but this was different and I knew it-you will too. PLEASE don't just let these people continue down the road where they might hit and hurt someone! Make a call-you won't regret it.
About 20 minutes after I hung up, I received a call from the Vermillion Police Department. The very kind officer thanked me for calling and reporting the driver. He told me that he was able to locate the car and stop the woman. She had been on the road for over an hour and saw that she had several text messages so she decided to respond to them while traveling down the highway at over 70 miles per hour. She thought those messages were more important than my life, my son's life, her life, and the lives of all those she was sharing the road with. She more than deserves the $100 ticket she was issued. The officer did say that she was very upfront and honest about what she was doing. He said that he informed her that her driving behavior while she was texting was consistent with that of someone who was driving while intoxicated. He said she seemed pretty surprised by this. This should be no surprise to anyone. The info is out there, we see these accidents in the news. People need to stop thinking it won't happen to them.
Put down your phone and drive to your destination safely. Want to read or respond to a text? PULL OVER. If you have other passengers in the car, have them read and respond to your messages for you. My husband and I do this all the time. I even have my 11 year old read and respond to messages for me. I also have students read and respond to messages while I am on trips for interp. There is NO message worth your life or mine. Period.
I am a person that many people would refer to as a "carseat crazy" because I am passionate about keeping my kids safe while in the car. My 7 year old just graduated to a booster in November. My 3 year old is still rear facing. None of this is because I think I am a bad driver. I do it because there are people like this woman on the road EVERY DAY! Their first line cross or dramatic swerve might be right into your vehicle. I could not live with myself knowing that I could have done something to protect my kids and didn't even if the accident wasn't my fault. If you feel like you could be better informed about carseat safety there are plenty of resources available to you. Here are a couple of the best ones I know:
Carseats For the Littles
The Carseat Lady

On a lighter note, Happy Monday:

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