Letter: Distracted driver changes another’s life

Had I seen the driver approaching from my rear-view mirror, there was nothing I could have done to avoid this accident.

To the editor:

It was a clear spring day as I slowed, along with the traffic, for an intersection light. Lanes on either side were full.

Suddenly, my car seemed to explode. Smoke filled the car which , in seconds, I realized was dust from the two airbags that had released.

My car was fast approaching the vehicle ahead of me. I pressed hard on the brakes; still moving. I bounced off the car and rammed it again. Couldn’t change gears; couldn’t remove ignition keys. Finally the car was still.

I opened my door and a young man rushed up to help me out. He was the driver behind me. He admitted he was distracted and apologized.

Read KCN columnist Paul Hergott’s thoughts on distracted driving.

He called the police and ambulance, and even filled out the data cards for me and the driver ahead of me. The elderly couple that I hit did not have any serious injuries, but were understandably shaken. I was checked in the ambulance at roadside and fortunately my son came to take me home.

My car was totalled and towed away.  My tongue was cut and bleeding, but fortunately I just had soft tissue injuries which took months of weekly treatments. A purple bruise covered the left side of my chest for over a month, caused by my seatbelt restraint. Had I not been wearing it, my head would have gone through the windshield. The radio had fallen out of the dash and the glove compartment had emptied onto the floor.

So began my long hot summer of taxis for the doctor appointments, for grocery shopping, or arranging for rides by friends. Time dragged along in waiting for a monetary settlement and only now am I able to search for another car. With winter approaching , I’ll not hesitate to be ready with the appropriate tires, with all the fluids topped up, all lights checked, etc.

Had I seen the driver approaching from my rear-view mirror, there was nothing I could have done to avoid this accident.

Though I have a clean driving record, I could have been a fatality.  I do carry a cell phone, but it remains in my purse — even if it rings. I even question the hands-free Bluetooth phones. Receiving a devastating call while driving would certainly cause momentary distraction.

When driving, you are in control of a lethal weapon which requires your full attention. Lives are lost due to distracted driving, or a mishap could bankrupt you. Night driving is so dangerous if your vision is poor. Walkers simply must wear reflective tape on jackets and on bikes. Drivers must slow down for the winter roads and school zones. And allow a safe distance for stopping. A bag of sand and a shovel in the trunk is  good to have.

A car offers us freedom and adventure, but remember folks, it is also a lethal weapon requiring your full undivided attention. Stay safe.

June Turner, Kelowna

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