The Pains of Distraction

Anniversaries can be very exciting.  There may be some element of pomp.  There may be a bit of circumstance.  OK, there could very well be pomp and circumstance since they’re rarely separated.  Consider general revelry.  We’re talking about good times.


Today brings me to a personal anniversary.  98% of my feelings – both physical and emotional – I have kept to myself but sometimes, they’re hard to miss.  It may be a strained face or a subtle limp.  Yes, if I have an expression and gait of a pirate, that’s part of the unintended public expression. 


48 physical therapy sessions, numerous family doctor and neurosurgeon visits later, the path of medical visits continues.  Next week, it’s off to the neurosurgeon for EMG testing.  Think about two needles.  One is in the back.  The other – placed somewhere lower – serves as the end point.  The test is for nerve conductivity and the needles act as poles for an electric charge.  That sounds like a great way to spend 30 minutes on Tuesday morning.  Here’s an anniversary that is a ‘gift’ that keeps on ‘giving’ in the name of pain and inconvenience. 


What caused all of this?  On May 22 of last year, I was driving south from Hunt Valley Towne Centre to visit a sponsor.  It was a beautiful day so I decided to add some minutes to the drive.  York Road was chosen over I-83.  At the southbound intersection of York and Warren Roads, I sat at the red light.  Behind me, I saw a large SUV that was stopped at much more than the usual distance.  Very strange.  The driver’s head was down and the hands were off the steering wheel.  While continuing to wait at the red light, the light for the left turn to Warren Road turned green and vehicles began to move in that lane.  Unfortunately, the distracted driver reacted to the turn lane’s activity and hit the gas.  The lane we shared remained at the red light.  The driver’s head remained down and my car essentially acted as the brakes for the SUV as it collided squarely with my car’s bumper and trunk.  I was taken in the ambulance to the nearest hospital with back pain as well as stabbing pains and numbness in my left leg and foot.  The distracted driver shaken but uninjured - continued on with their day. 


The impact of distracted driving certainly has my attention.  You’re encouraged to review  There’s advice for teens, parents, educators, employers and community groups. Here are stats that hit home:  A quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving.  In 2013, 3,154 people were killed and 424,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involv­ing distracted drivers. 


Can we be safer?  Can we save lives?  Can we improve the quality of lives?   It takes education to inspire change.  We’re generally conditioned to be distracted by phones, infotainment systems and even old-school distractions like passengers.  We may think we’re indestructible.  At times, maybe we’re not thinking at all.  Get the brains in gear.  Talk to your kids, your friends and your family.  Lead by example.  Advise when applicable.  Let’s keep our minds solely on the task at hand.  Driving.