Texting and Driving

Yesterday, I was walking through a parking lot at Target when a Ford Explorer nearly backed over an elderly woman. The Explorer didn’t even stop. The driver was looking at his phone.

Today, I almost got killed by a teenager driving a Range Rover. He might have been seventeen. Maybe not even that old. He wore a ballcap. Sideways. Music was blaring.

I was walking my dog when he swerved toward me. I heard tires screech. I leapt out of the way, hit the dirt, and rolled. It was so much fun. I wish I could do it all over again.

I caught a glimpse of the driver through his passenger window. His head was down, looking at something in his hands. I’m guessing he was either reading a receipt, a check from Publishers Clearing House, the results from a paternity test, or looking at a cellphone.

Though, something about the way he was swerving tells me that he was sending a text message. In fact, I am almost certain of this because of the exact way his tires leapt from the pavement.

He was probably sending a very important text message such as: “LOL!” or “ROFL!” Or quite possibly—this would be just my luck—the pile-of-poop emoji.

Wouldn’t that be a classy way for an average guy like me to die? There I am, out for a walk, a middle-aged man, minding his business, his best years ahead of him, devilishly handsome, when all of a sudden (BAM!) I’m Jello salad on the highway.

All because a teenager was trying to send his buddy the universal emoji for colon health.

When I finally got back home, I was so rattled that I was shaking. So naturally, the first thing I did was hop on the internet and Google how much a Range Rover costs. Here is what I found:

$90,000.00.

That’s U.S. dollars. Not dineros, Euros, Canadian dollars, Franks, Monopoly money, or whatever else there is.

So let’s review:

1. I almost died.
2. Certain SUVs cost more than two-bedroom condos with lake views.
3. Poop emojis.
4. Don’t text and drive.

I wish there were something we could do about all the texting and driving. I have seen too many close calls recently.

Yesterday, I was walking through a parking lot at Target when a Ford Explorer nearly backed over an elderly woman. The Explorer didn’t even stop. The driver was too busy looking at his phone.

Once the driver realized what had happened, he threw his hands into the air as if to say, “Hey, lady! Watch where you’re going! I’m texting here!”

And just a few days ago, I was in the grocery store. I saw a young woman pushing her shopping cart through the aisles. She was holding a phone so close to her face that it was almost touching her eyebrows.

She ran straight into a young man who was placing a can of Campbell’s soup into his basket. The cart hit the man’s shinbone. I could hear it from across the aisle.

It took a few moments for the woman to realize that the human-sounding thud she felt on the other side of her buggy was a live person.

The young man hollered, “Ow!”

Once this familiar sound registered in the woman’s ears, she glanced up from her personal device, and with all the emotion of mayonnaise, said:

“Oh.”

That was all she said. Not, “OH NO! I’m sorry, sir!”

Not: “OH MY GOODNESS, I’M SORRY! I was sending a very important text to my friend which was not a text at all but a bunch of random emojis, including a female-flamenco-dancer emoji that was not even relevant to my actual text conversation!”

She said, “Oh.”

Then she kept shopping.

I guess I worry that something is happening to our society. I wonder if things will keep going like they are with cell phones. I hope not.

I do a lot of interstate driving throughout the week. I pass people on the highway all the time who are glancing down at their laps while traveling eighty miles per hour in the left lane.

I see vehicles run off the highway and barely avoid collisions with guardrails, telephone poles, and billboards advertising Florida Powerball.

Nobody even has to tell me why these vehicles are running off the road. It’s common knowledge why these things happen.

A few weeks ago, in Atlanta, I saw a woman walking with her son on the sidewalk. Out of nowhere, a truck veered off the highway and rocketed onto the sidewalk. It barely missed the woman and her child.

The truck came to a crashing halt, but not before ramming a sedan in front of it. My wife and I literally saw the truck driver’s cellphone bounce out of his hands upon impact.

Then, the man gunned his engine and left the accident.

The police were called to the scene. We witnesses were standing around, telling the cops what happened. You should have seen the horror on everyone’s faces. Especially the woman and her son who almost got struck. The kid was crying. His mother was, too.

A big crowd of onlookers gathered. And I’ll never forget when one female police officer shouted to the large audience lingering nearby.

“Folks!” she said. “Listen to me! Please! Don’t text and drive! Don’t, don’t, don’t!”

It was all she said.

And I suppose that’s all I’ll say, too.

41 comments

  1. Linda clifton - August 10, 2019 7:30 am

    Agree! I think this world is going to hell in a hand basket, as grandma use to say. We are so focused in on me, that no one or no thing matters anymore. I am sadden by all this.
    I still keep smiling to strangers but get few in return. I keep saying hello, thank you, excuse me, but most of the time they don’t even hear me. I feel like I am on another planet most of the time. Oh yeah, friends are harder to make too.
    Ok enough ranting.
    Thank you for writing about life.
    I always enjoy!
    Linda

    Reply
  2. Karen - August 10, 2019 7:55 am

    Texting and driving has become a serious problem.
    We saw a young woman in Athens go sailing through a red light as she stared at her phone. She hit three cars and sent 3 people to the hospital with serious injuries. She was not hurt. We saw her crying as she talked with police. It was winter, and I gave my coat to a woman who had been a passenger in one of the cars, because she was so cold.
    We were also once driving down I-65 toward Birmingham when we saw a driver of an 18 wheeler. He had a catalog propped on the steering wheel, and he was turning the pages and staring into the book. We never saw him look up.
    Thank you for bringing attention to this. Your words have the power to make a difference. I wish there were a way to disable a phone while the owner is driving.

    Reply
  3. Martha Black - August 10, 2019 9:31 am

    I’ll join you! Don’t text & drive. Heck, don’t even text & walk. If you need to text, stop what you’re doing and get over on the side and out of the flow.

    Reply
  4. Jean - August 10, 2019 10:26 am

    I totally agree. Too many folks cannot leave their cell phones alone.When did we feel the need to be so connected? One new rule in Tennessee. You cannot use your phone while you are driving. Major fines. I doubt that it will stop many until they get a ticket.

    Reply
  5. Sandi. - August 10, 2019 10:33 am

    Sean, thank you for bringing this serious topic to the forefront in your post tofay. Texting is replacing actual verbal communication among all age groups. It’s not an addiction. It’s not an epidemic. IT IS A PANDEMIC. Just yesterday as I walked inside a grocery store, a woman with her head down texting on her cell phone was exiting the same store, never glanced up, and she came less than ten inches away from walking into a concrete column in front of the store. I literally had to step far to my right to avoid her walking directly into me. I wonder if she drove out of the parking lot still typing that text message. My guess is YESSSS.

    Reply
  6. Kelly - August 10, 2019 10:38 am

    I also drive on the interstates during the week for my job in Florida. Yesterday was so harrowing on I-4 and 95 that I said a prayer of thanks before I even turned off my car in the driveway at home. I was almost rammed from behind (while driving 75 myself in the right lane!), cut off by three cars racing going at least 100 miles an hour, and saw several looking at their phones. No reason for me to visit theme parks for roller coasters – driving on these roads is all the thrill I need!

    Reply
  7. Dennis Lowery - August 10, 2019 10:53 am

    My wife’s best friend was killed by a 16 year old kid driving and talking on her cell phone in her BMW. Girl blew thru a stop sign.

    Reply
  8. Jerry catherine Deloney - August 10, 2019 11:21 am

    So true! We were just t boned going thru an intersection. We stopped at red light and went on when light turned green.
    Kid in big truck slammed us out of nowhere. Y husband saw him just before impact and swerved left which moved impact from dead on passenger door (me) to more forward . I cant say he planned it that way just a quick reaction and luck and God and guardian angles.
    We both skidded off the road.
    Kid admitted he ran light, didn’t see us , his fault. At 55 mph in a 35 mph zone! He didn’t say but I know he had to be texting. His girlfriend showed up shortly thereafter.
    It was nearb$16000 damage to my BIG suv. Could have killed us in a split second. We were just coming home from Walmart!!
    DONT TEXT AND DRIVE
    Thing was … I guess because no one died and he admitted guilt the police didn’t even ask for his phone. 🤔
    I can only hope he learned a lesson
    Oh…and his dad who showed up said it was his 3rd accident and he just got the truck for graduation. So could have ended much worse.

    Reply
  9. Glenda - August 10, 2019 11:34 am

    As of July 1, 2019 texting and driving has become a primary offense in Florida. That means a suspect may be pulled over by law enforcement and fined, it’s about time. Great post, Sean.

    Reply
  10. LeAnne - August 10, 2019 11:48 am

    Thank the Lord you’re okay, Sean, and so are the woman and her child. Well said.

    Reply
  11. Janie F. - August 10, 2019 11:54 am

    Can’t count the times I’ve been sitting in the passenger seat in our mini van when we pass another car to see the driver staring at their phone. Seeing a family out to eat and all of them on their phone instead of enjoying each other is a common sight too. Another rude thing I’ve noticed is a young husband and wife sitting with family texting back and forth to each other instead of actually talking to each other or taking part in an actual conversation with others. I too wonder what will become of civilization if this keeps happening. Once again Sean, you have written about something we all think about. Thank you!

    Reply
  12. Leah - August 10, 2019 11:59 am

    I have a friend who comes over frequently to visit me. Her cell phone never leaves her hand. She talks to her daughter, her 4-year-old grandson, her niece, her sister. I never get to complete a sentence. My husband and I recently went on a trip with them. They were driving; they had the radio on country music; they were calling people on their cell phone, listening to their GPS and trying to have a conversation with us in the backseat. When we finally got to our destination, I needed a tranquilizer.

    Reply
  13. Mary - August 10, 2019 12:26 pm

    Georgia instituted a new law last year where you cannot even touch your phone while behind the wheel, even at red lights and stop signs. Hands free is okay. It seemed to slow phone usage down quite a bit for awhile. But I have noticed recently it going back up. Nothing on your phone could possibly be that important that you risk a life.

    Reply
  14. Meredith Smith - August 10, 2019 12:36 pm

    Absolutely this is an epidemic problem. A personal observation/story. I lost the ability to drive about 6 years ago due to a medical condition. Since I have been strictly a passenger, it is shocking how much more I see vs. when I spent time focusing 100% on driving. Wow. People talking on their phones, texting, running off the road or left of center etc… And this is in a state where cell phone use Is illegal.
    A grandmother pushing a stroller holding her granddaughter were hit and killed by a teen just recently in my area. Reason? The teen was texting and driving.
    We are obsessed with our phones and I don’t know the answer. I wish the police would better enforce the law when they see people using their devices. If I see them, I know the police must see them.

    Reply
  15. Connie Havard Ryland - August 10, 2019 12:39 pm

    Timely message. My kids and I were ran off the road just last week by a man driving down the road, pulling a trailer, and he never even looked up from his phone. We were okay, my granddaughter was driving and she saw him coming over on top of us in time to move. But it was not a fun experience. I see it every day. It’s just plain scary. Glad you’re okay. Love and hugs.

    Reply
  16. Bill - August 10, 2019 12:39 pm

    Sean, more and more of the newer cars are equipped to allow talking without holding the phone. That is a FALSE solution to the problem. Anyone in heavy conversation is NOT alert to what is happening around them. Most states, and especially Southern states, are reluctant to pass ANY laws that restrict or restrain anyone. I think Alabama was LAST to pass seat belt laws. That HAS TO change. We will only stop endangering ourselves and others when the laws are strong enough to get everyone’s attention. This is a national safety issue that is growing worse by the day. Thank you for drawing attention to it.

    Reply
  17. Frieda Borntrager - August 10, 2019 12:41 pm

    Thank God, all are ok! We live, unfortunately, in the “me first” era where manners and consideration for others are rapidly becoming extinct. Don’t text and drive. Just don’t. The life you may save may be your own.

    Reply
  18. Nix - August 10, 2019 12:42 pm

    Amen, Sean. There has got to be a way to resolve this frightening and reckless phenomenon. It is horrible. I see it everywhere, too. Grown ups, teens, you name it. Folks are entirely distracted and addicted to their phones. It is a zoo out there. So glad you escaped the poop emoji.

    Reply
  19. GaryD - August 10, 2019 12:58 pm

    Some, I hope not most, people are so inconsiderate. Not just texting and driving but in everything they do. So sad.

    Reply
  20. Jeri Blom - August 10, 2019 1:22 pm

    In Minnesota, it is now illegal to have your hands on your cell phone while driving, $50 fine the first time you’re caught, $275 each time after that.

    Reply
  21. Montee Wellman - August 10, 2019 1:37 pm

    The woman on her phone in the store gossiping about Joe Bob running around on Linda Sue so the entire superstore can hear, drives me nuts. My husband and I travel a lot and have for years. Used to be you could pass people on the highway and wave. Now their nose is stuck in a phone. My husband coaches in the Minor Leagues for the Padres right now. No one watches a ballgame any longer. Saw a popped up foul ball hit a man in the head the other night….he was looking at his phone.

    Reply
  22. Leslie Schmidt - August 10, 2019 1:40 pm

    This is scary. I know I can’t stay in my house forever

    Reply
  23. Ann Fuller - August 10, 2019 1:44 pm

    Our new traveling game is counting the drivers that are texting or on their phones talking. I watched a Mom and her daughter have lunch together. They never laid down their phones and said very little to each other except showing what was on their phone.
    My other pet peeve is what I call “Backer Uppers”. That’s when a human leaves the cash register or just shopping and continues to walk backwards without looking behind them. One gentleman in a grocery store was backing up so fast I couldn’t get out of his way. Crunch..broke my toe and quickly ran away with his wife as I lay on the floor in agony!
    I look forward to your emails every morning! I don’t know you, but sure are proud of you. Mom’s can say that!

    Reply
  24. Phil Saunders - August 10, 2019 2:18 pm

    Good lesson for us all, Sean. Thank you.

    Reply
  25. Tim House - August 10, 2019 2:37 pm

    AMEN! AMEN, and again, amen… You touched on a nerve of mine. The one that wants to rant. It cannot be said too much, “Get that damned phone out of your face, turned off, and put away, until you arrive at your destination! Or you might not arrive!”

    Reply
  26. Chuck Gerlach - August 10, 2019 3:11 pm

    There is an easy way to reduce (not eliminate) texting and driving. Make the penalty for doing so sever. Minimum 6 months in jail, loss of drivers license for 5 years, minimum $5000 fine (or jail time if the money is not available). And if that is not effective, keep increasing the penalties.

    Texting and driving is a menace.

    Reply
    • theholtgirls - August 10, 2019 3:46 pm

      Chuck, to up the ante on those consequences, the first should be the immediate loss of the phone, before being put in the police car.

      Sean, I am grateful that you are still alive. We’d like to keep you around, thankyouverymuch!

      Reply
  27. Ruth in AL - August 10, 2019 3:42 pm

    Sean, this is so timely. My son will drive me to UAB from lower Alabama on the 19th and I am already dreading it. Every time we go something happens. One time, my son driving, yelled ” mom look at this,” as a car went around us doing over a hundred. Then police cars started going around us one after the other. We pulled over as to not get in the middle of the chase and waited for them to get ahead. When we pulled back in thinking we were safe, the same chased car came across the grass in the median straight at us so close we could look in the eyes of the 3 passengers inside. They were by then followed by at least 20 police cars,game wardens in camo trucks, etc. Again we pulled over and waited. Later we heard on the radio that the car was stolen in Atlanta, the pursuit started in Troy and ended in somebody’s front yard on a country road in a shoot out with the police. We have seen so many people texting etc. and there is no regard for others. We, too,have discussed entire families out eating with all the members on phones and no one having conversation. The rudeness seems to be all of this new entitled generation of people who deem you to be at fault for there bad manners. The young mothers, on their phones at wal-mart, completely unaware of what their children are doing. When they look at the child they often pull them up, yelling and pop them for their own inattentiveness. The child is held responsible for the parents non parenting. The same for drivers who shoot you a bird, or yell at you out the window for their mistake! We need strong laws with harsh penalties and they must be enforced.

    Reply
  28. Linda Moon - August 10, 2019 3:57 pm

    The teenage Range Rover driver was probably distracted by looking at the cell phone in his hands. My second guess would be the paternity test results. Unfortunately, the Atlanta police officer’s command, with which you agree, won’t help…that is, until you become King Of The World and decree a universal ban on texting and driving. OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!! And also their hands, to assure completion of the hands-free decree!

    Reply
  29. Beth Peterson - August 10, 2019 4:21 pm

    Tennessee has just made it illegal to be holding your phone while driving. The law went into effect July 1. I am seeing as many idiots holding phones while driving as I saw before July 1. It is crazy to be otherwise occupied when driving a lethal weapon.

    Reply
  30. Janet Mary Lee - August 10, 2019 4:36 pm

    Just so glad you all are okay! Maybe if Al .ever gets decent larger prisons jailing might work. Since courts (everywhere) seem to gloss over violent behavior and let these people go..my guess is the people will be texting for a while. Our present culture says it is okay to not raise our kids to think of anything but their own pleasures.That is why we love you. Even at the threat of your life, you can give us heartfelt descriptions of impending doom given in a hilarious manner, and yet end it with such a passionate plea for common sense and thinking of others. Thank you for you and appreciate you are still here to write and live life to the fullest!! Scary times!

    Reply
  31. Shelton A. - August 10, 2019 4:40 pm

    In FL, they can only ticket you for distracted driving unless stopped for something else. You can’t fix down-to-the-bone ignorant or stupid. The only way I can communicate is by text. Call, it goes to voicemail. Maybe, just maybe, she’ll get the voicemail. Cell phones are addictive to today’s kids and even the 20-40’s crowd. I hope things change, too.

    Reply
  32. Nancy L. - August 10, 2019 6:39 pm

    There IS a way to stop all the texting and driving: the auto manufacturers place a blocking Device on every automobile show that when the car is put into Drive or first gear which ever makes sense the blocking device shut off all access to the cell phone that’s the way to stop texting while driving.

    Reply
  33. Joe Patterson - August 10, 2019 6:45 pm

    People know better than to drive under the influence but think nothing of texting and driving just as dangerous if not more so .Need to make it illegal to even use your phone while driving. Good luck with that infringing on my rights .Right to kill and injure innocents.

    Reply
  34. Judie - August 10, 2019 9:56 pm

    I don’t text and drive, but you may find me with my face buried in my phone at the grocery store. You see, the chain where I shop has now gone to digital coupons. So instead of sorting through my shoe box of expired coupons in the middle of the isle, I am now sorting though my expired DIGITAL coupons in the middle of the isle. Sorry. 😕

    Reply
  35. Margaret - August 10, 2019 10:25 pm

    I read your column just before leaving the house today. The SUV in front of me was doing what I call the”cell phone drift.” Sure enough at the next light I could see the driver in his side mirror. Teenage boy with eyes down, glancing up OCCASIONALLY. Georgia has a law prohibiting touching your phone while driving, but yet I see this almost every day – adults too. A kid was within about 2 inches from jumping the curb on the sidewalk I was walking on a few months ago! At least I didn’t have to dive like you did thank goodness! Can’t tell you how many people have walked out in front of my car (not at a crosswalk) on their phones, never looking up to even realize I could have killed them if I too were on my phone. What is so dang important?? Is your house on fire, is somebody bleeding? It IS an epidemic! People, PUT DOWN THE PHONE!!

    Reply
  36. Steve Winfield - August 11, 2019 1:06 am

    Pardon my French, par favor. They’re all goobers. Not enough common sense to put down that phone until they stop. Thoughtless, thankless, (& thinkless), idiots.
    OK. I’m done.
    I love you & please be safe out there.

    Reply
  37. That's jack - August 11, 2019 1:25 am

    I’m on your side. We are on the road a lot in our motor home. I see it constantly at 80 mph. People do not realize what can happen in one second at 80 mph!
    Anyway, good post.
    Sherry & jack

    Reply
  38. Allison Gilmore - August 11, 2019 1:48 am

    I have often wondered if it is actually allowed for us to make a “Citizen’s arrest! Citizen’s arrest” like Goober (or was it Gomer) from Mayberry did? If it is, then many of us should be making some arrests almost every time we’re out in a car or even on foot walking across a parking lot or on sidewalks. It just amazes me how blatant some people are about texting and driving and how oblivious they seem to be to the danger that they’re putting the rest of us in.

    Reply
  39. Estelle - August 12, 2019 3:20 am

    Remember when you were allowed to see and talk to people and there were fewer accidents on the road and sidewalks. Phones were ATTATCHED to a wall. Freedom to be real.

    Reply
  40. Debbie Taylor - August 12, 2019 11:07 am

    Thank you for writing this.

    Reply

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