Pay attention and slow down

Mar 13, 2017

Hey you. That’s right, you behind the wheel with the cell phone in your hand. Put it down.

Car accidents are sometimes unavoidable, but almost every time there is a crash, someone is at fault and someone could have prevented it.

Take for example the three recent, serious accidents on U.S. 74 where a construction project forces the busy thoroughfare down to one lane. Although investigations in these accidents are preliminary, each one involved a driver coming up too fast, following too close and ultimately ramming the car in front of it, leading to multiple cars piling up.

It is unbelievably lucky there have been no fatalities.

Last week, in an effort to curb the incidence of these accidents, N.C. Highway Patrol has stationed cruisers along the fateful stretch of highway and N.C. Department of Transportation decided to reduce the speed limit in the area down to 50 miles per hour, in addition to adding more signage warning drivers of the lane change and abrupt stoppage of traffic. And yet, on Thursday, there was still another multi-car pileup.

There are a few ways to prevent these kinds of accidents. The first and most obvious is, pay attention to what is in front of you. Being on the road is a dynamic situation, things are always changing. If you look down at your phone for one second, there is a perfectly good chance you could look up to see a car, person, deer, etc. in front of you.

And it doesn’t stop there. Even if you’re simply talking on your phone and still keeping your eyes on the road, studies show that you are still distracted. Think of it this way, you wouldn’t operate a bandsaw with a cell phone pressed against your ear, and automobiles kill a lot more people than bandsaws. Why not operate it with the same level of respect?

Some drivers are attentive enough, but lack the consideration to remember that they aren’t alone on the road. Aggressive driving has no place on the highway where high speeds up the ante. Tailgaters and those who lack the patience to work with other drivers put everyone at risk, all to shave a couple minutes off their commute.

It’s true that there is often more wiggle room with highway speed limits. Highway patrol generally won’t pull drivers over unless they are going 10 or more miles per hour over the speed limit. But it needs to be kept in the front of drivers’ minds that, especially in construction zones where conditions can change rapidly, the speed limit is set for the safety of all, and following distance must increase as speed does.

Hopefully if people take into consideration these points, but our words don’t stick, take it straight from the mouth of Sgt. Roger Smith of the Highway Patrol these five simple words:

“Pay attention and slow down.”