Call it being older or pin it on being a new father, but man, when it comes to the roadways, everyone needs to slow the (bleep) down and pay (bleeping) attention.

Earlier this week, let's face it, people — kids, even — could have been killed in that gnarly accident outside of Renaissance Academy on U.S. 20. Now, we don't know if driver distraction or excessive speed caused that particular accident, but we know that's where all our minds went when we heard about it.

In Saturday's N-D, Donovan Garletts penned an editorial about his dog being hit and killed by a reckless driver, who couldn't even be bothered to stop and offer assistance. Again, we don't know the cause of that accident, but the dots are already connected in your mind.

It's a really tough time to be a responsible driver. Your modern car is a distraction in and of itself. You have a touchscreen radio, bluetooth technology has made it easier to make phone calls, but just the act of having a conversation is inherently distracting.

And if you don't have any of that techology in your car, the temptation to grap your cell phone to read a text or send a quick reply or make a fast call is way too strong.

Plus, your work and personal schedule is hectic. So, you eat on the fly, scarfing down a burger and fries while keeping a hand on the wheel and — hopefully — at least one eye on the road.

Even if you're doing the right things and avoiding all these distractions, the person next to you might not be.

From, a government website which tracks these kinds of things:

• 10 percent of drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. Drivers in their 20s make up 27 percent of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes.

• At any given moment, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or an electronic device while driving.

• Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55 mph, that's enough time to cover the length of a football field while, essentially, blindfolded.

Though many statistics out there focus on young drivers, it obviously isn't exclusively a young people problem. It's a problem for all of us. The casual business traveler, the long-haul truck driver who sacrifices sleep to make a living, the mom taking kids to and from activities, etc.

These days, as I drive with my weeks-old daughter in the car, I'm certainly more cognizant of these things. When I see someone near me driving irresponsibly, I not only get upset, but feel personally offended.

It seems like it always takes personal tragedy for behavior to change. My challenge is this: Don't let it come to that. 

Don't become a statistic. Take care of yourself and, in turn, others.

Contact Managing Editor Adam Parkhouse at or 1-219-214-4170.




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