Nearly every day as I am driving to/from work or just living my life, I see at least one person clearly on their cell phone while driving. Sometimes they have it up on the steering wheel in front of their face. Other times I’ve been stuck at a green light because they were busy texting or taking a selfie (no kidding, I’ve seen this!). When I’m in my car I find these people really irritating and do my best to move away from them. When I’m on the bike they become life threatening. I’m not exaggerating here, I promise you.
This past weekend my riding buddy and I were out enjoying some Colorado sunshine and blue skies (mostly) and lucked out by stopping to discuss some future travel plans when a rain and hail storm moved through. We were safely inside a coffee shop with our maps out discussing possibilities. We thought that once the storm passed we were safe. Little did we know . . .
Once the storm moved east and the roads dried up a bit, we resumed our trip toward our respective homes. Depending on which way we are heading we start and end together at his house or mine; then the other person goes off on the rest of their journey home. We were very close to my buddy’s house, on a residential street when the day nearly came to a horrible end. I saw a car pull out from the left and instead of moving past us, the driver seemed hell bent on heading straight for my friend. I saw my buddy move to the right, then move over more and the car just kept coming at him. I felt so helpless; I couldn’t find the damn horn and really, what good would that little beeeeeep, beeeeeep do anyway I wondered. The next sound I heard was squealing brakes as my friend locked up the brakes on his bike. I saw the car swerve back to its own side of the road and the driver kept on going. We can’t be sure, but speculate that the sound of squealing brakes is what brought the driver’s attention back to the road instead of the phone or whatever he was distracted by.
I admit to being very angry at this driver and I yelled some pretty awful words at him as he passed by. I was shaking from the adreneline and probably from the fear as well. It took a while for me to feel gratitude that my friend was safe. Yesterday I was reminded that we, as riders, can do only so much to keep ourselves safe – we wear gear to help protect us in a fall. The people I ride with refrain from adult beverages until our riding day is done. We watch out for cars and do our best to be considerate of others on the road. What we cannot do is make the drivers around us pay attention to their driving. I wonder what it will take before people wake up and put the cell phones down. Will it take them hitting and killing someone? Or maybe when someone they care about is injured or killed by a distracted driver they will start to change their ways. I confess that I have been guilty of looking at my phone at red lights. I now put my phone away in my purse where I can’t even see or hear it when I’m driving. I don’t want to be tempted to look at it and be the cause of someone feeling the sheer terror and helplessness I felt last weekend.
Nothing on your cell phone (or mine!) is more important than a life. NOTHING. Please, I beg you all, put away the cell phones and the other distractions. Focus only on your driving. Everyone on the road has someone that cares about them and wants them to come home safe. Please, help us by doing your part.