Keep your eyes on the road

When your little league baseball coach used to say, “Keep your eyes on the ball,” they meant it for your own safety. The same goes for when your parents and driver’s education teacher told you to “Keep your eyes on the road, not your phone.” Unless you want to die young, I’d take their advice.
According to Louisiana state law (R.S. 32:300.5), texting while driving is banned. Unfortunately, there is no state wide ban on hand-held phone use; only for drivers with intermediate licenses. In May of 2013, Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law a ban on using social media sites while driving. The law went into effect in August with fines of up to $500 for subsequent offenders. As I, and many other Louisianians, may disagree with some of Jindal’s political choices I agree with this one. Though the loophole in this law is having enough police officers on patrol actually pulling drivers over for the offense, I find it hard to believe a police officer can see if a driver is scrolling through their Twitter feed in a moving car. No matter this hole, it’s still reckless.
Remember, we are behind the wheel of a monstrous amount of metal and steel, weighing in at tons. Some trucks look like they probably weigh about the size of an elephant. Especially the ones I see around campus with the tires so highly raised the door openings start at my head-and I’m six feet tall.
I’ve walked, rode a bicycle and now drive to school so I’ve experienced variations of drivers enter this campus. I’ve classified them into four categories, the fourth one almost like an endangered species.
First, there are the White Rabbits. They’re late for a very important date so they’re usually too much in a hurry to pay a pedestrian any respect; they’re the driver, so it’s their road, end of story. Then, there are road anarchists who have no regard for the rules of the road. They’ll roll through stop signs when there are people trying to cross the street, and barely stop for people in the crosswalk. Running through yellow lights is child’s play and speed limit signs are invisible to them. Much of the times, I have noticed, these drivers are talking on their phones.
Now the one-handed drivers, who do nothing but drive with one hand and use the smartphone in the other, are the most hazardous because they are not paying attention to anything but their phone. It’s as if they don’t know how to operate the vehicle without the phone in one hand. The final type of driver is the conscientious one, the one who is alert and fair, and I’ve seen one in all the six years I’ve been driving. It’s me.
Everyone, please, put down the phone. Learn to soak up the sun, the sky, the trees and the air. Let’s bring the conscientious driver back into society and have safer roads for everyone. Look around at what God has put on this Earth, not what Steve Jobs put inside the palm of your hand.
According to the US Department of Transportation study on  distracted driving for 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers and an estimated additional 387,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
Distracted driving is dangerous driving. Picking up your phone, touching the screen and paying it attention is deliberate, and you’re taking your eyes off the road for your own selfish reasons. If you’re so concerned with your phone and the people in your life, I suggest a Bluetooth headset or a new Ford model with the SYNC capabilities.
I could bore you with statistics on car crash numbers caused by cell phone usages, but those never seem to hit home with students. What matters to me is waking up another day to live my life and continue driving toward my goals. The road is a scary, fast-paced place and anything can happen in the blink of an eye. The world would be a wonderful place if we all just put our phones away while driving, really, try to imagine it.
As drivers, it is our responsibility to keep the road a safe place by obeying the laws and using common sense. Just remember, even though you will never see other drivers on the road for more than a second as they zoom past, we are all sharing the road, so pay attention to it and the other drivers on it.