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Kent April 15, 2021

A time when you really need to pay attention

The Lakeville Journal Editorial

When is the last time you found yourself thinking about something else besides the road and the vehicles and possible obstacles around you while you were driving? After all, with the many ways COVID-19 has changed our lives in the past year, the distractions of everyday life have increased exponentially. That situation doesn’t seem to be changing dramatically for most of us yet, even with vaccines helping more and more people protect themselves from the disease.

So there can be an unexpected call or text to distract you as you drive, and if it’s from a family member, for instance, or some other loved one in need of some help or emotional support, it can be very tempting to “just this once” reply while continuing to drive. But all it takes is once. Driving without hands on the wheel and eyes on the road can result in tragic consequences that can never be changed. 

Or, of course, as we are all aware, the distraction can be something else besides reading or sending a text: there can be a cup of coffee in your holder that spills on a curve; or you may be grabbing a bite while out doing chores and make the decision to keep driving while doing it to save time; or you may be resetting music in the car. The list can go on. None of these are worth risking your life, or the lives of those around you on the road.

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness month, sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If that seems contrived somehow or unnecessary, think about any traffic accident you’ve heard of or been a part of in the past. How many happened in the aftermath of a driver becoming distracted by something inside the vehicle? A large part of possible road danger can be that moment of distraction when something unexpected happens outside the car: an animal runs across the road or a vehicle cuts you off. If your eyes aren’t on the road, the odds of coming through such events unscathed decrease greatly.

Connecticut’s part in fighting against distracted driving was launched on April 1, a national program called U Drive. U Text. U Pay. Now is a good time to be aware of the dangers of driving distracted, and the potential costs of being caught by law enforcement doing it. Drivers who are ticketed for distracted driving are fined $150 for the first offense, $300 for the second, and $500 for the third and any more offenses. The fines should be deterrents, but so should the admission that driving safety is its own reward, if more of us on the road can arrive at our destinations without doing harm to ourselves or others.

For more on distracted driving, go to www.distraction.gov.

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