Here in the newsroom, we pose questions to one another all the time. It helps us figure out why a story is important or what the next step in our reporting should be. But one recent question really caught my attention and got me thinking: How long could you go without using a cellphone?
I got my first cellphone when I was in eighth grade, and it was very much a basic, brick-style phone. There were no bells and no whistles. And if my memory serves me correctly, I didn’t have text messaging for the first few years. If I did, it was quickly taken away from me because my parents weren’t big fans of 10-cent price tag on each sent and received message.
I survived all of high school and three years of college without a smartphone, before I finally broke down and bought one. Four years later, my smartphone is on me pretty much at all times. I use it heavily for work, and I rely on it to stay in touch with friends — yes, I do have the freedom to text now.
The social and professional expectations that exist today make it hard, if not practically impossible to unplug, but it’s necessary for my sanity. And after researching a story on a new law distracted driving this week, I’m reminded of how important putting down the phone is.
Last year, more than 100,000 Texas traffic accidents involved some form of distracted driving. In my almost ten years on the road, I’ve seen people scarf down fast-food burgers, put make up on, read books, brush their teeth and even shave while behind the wheel. Nowadays, the cellphone is the reining king of distraction and just about everyone I know is guilty of messing with their devices while they drive.
Driving is one of the most dangerous things any of us can do. I’m honestly more afraid of being attacked a by a bear or shark and being struck by lightning than I am of driving, but the fact remains that I’m much more likely to be injured or killed in a car wreck than any of my outdoor ventures.
Just a few days ago, a local father was killed and his son was injured in a wreck on the freeway right here in Sherman. I don’t know that distracted driving was in any way a factor in a crash, but I do know that in a matter of moments a family lost a loved one and was forever changed.
There is no phone call, no email, no selfie, social media post, text message or digital map worth your life or anyone else’s. If you are driving, put down the phone.
Happy birthday Saturday to James Walker, Tara Rice, Dorothy Carlisle, and Doris Moore Ritchie, all of Sherman; O.B. Powers of Howe; Carrie Sisemore of Pottsboro; and Marie Wood of Savoy.