Saturday, December 14, 2013

                                         Texting and Driving: A New Danger on the Road

     In February 2009, "an 18-year-old girl plowed directly into the rear of another vehicle (photo not shown). (To see photos go to She was going 70 mph. She apparently never saw them. You see, she had been texting at the time. There was no blowout, no wet road, no curve or hill or fog to limit visibility. This girl clearly should have bee able to see the traffic conditions at least a half a mile ahead had she been looking and not texting. She nearly killed a beautiful 3-year-old child." (Snopes)

     Driving on American roads has had many challenges throughout the history of the automobile. Road conditions and vehicle quality were the defining issues of the early 20th century. In today's 21st century, however, roadways are well paved and vehicles have incredible safety standards which are constantly being upgraded. A vehicle now can automatically adjust to any road condition and it can even predict an accident before it ever happens. These amazing features are the pursuit of making vehicles that are nearly flawless. Despite the advances of automobiles, the biggest reason behind car crashes is the result of driver inattention or distraction. We are all familiar with road rage, drinking and driving, driving under the influence of drugs, and eating while driving. Now a new distraction has reared its head in the presence of technology - texting while driving.

     Texting and driving is an issue which has really only began to manifest itself within the past decade due to the fact that cell phones are now owned by almost everyone. It "is a growing trend, and a national epidemic, quickly becoming one of the country's top killers. Drivers assume they can handle texting while driving and remain safe, but the numbers don't lie." Each year there are 1,600,000 accidents and 330,000 injuries related to texting and driving. It is "about 6 times more likely to cause an accident than driving intoxicated" and 11 teenagers die every single day from this distraction ( This is a HUGE problem which is affecting everyone on the road, and it is slowly devastating the teenage population. Think about it! If your teenage daughter or son, or any of your friends and loved ones for that matter, takes their eyes off the road for even 5 seconds at 55 mph, they will have traveled the distance of a football field completely blind. Anything can happen within a hundred yards and unfortunately there are dozens of pictures of totaled vehicles on the web reminding us of this potential tragedy.

     The only way to eliminate this catastrophe is to eradicate texting and driving. This can be done in several ways. First of all, we need to encourage everyone to use hands-free devices when they are communicating in their vehicle. When both of your hands are on the wheel, you have a far greater chance of driving safely. Educational films should be shown in our schools since teenagers naturally find themselves invincible and able to do everything safely. Graphic information and disturbing photos should be provided to the general public through advertisement because it is an assumption by most adults that they can text and drive just fine. This is certainly untrue because I have nearly gotten into a couple accidents just trying to upload the Pandora app on my phone. The biggest way we can all prevent this distraction is to saturate social media with this issue. Put pictures on Facebook and Tumblr showing the horrible accidents and Tweet live instances when there is an accident as a reminder to everyone that texting can wait. In these ways the message is being brought right into the home or person's lap and it needs to be known!

     If we implement any and all of the strategies, we can make a difference in the statistics and we can save lives! Listen to the radio DJ telling you not to text and drive. Heed the signs and bumper stickers you see on the road telling you to wait. Exercise your right as an American citizen (yes, citizen, not consumer) to protect our children and loved ones from this senseless act! If you choose to do nothing about this issue than thousands of men, women, and children will die as a result of your inaction. Can you live with yourself knowing you may be responsible in some part for another person's death?

Friday, December 6, 2013

                                        Where Has the Sanctity of the Holidays Gone?

     The idea of Black Friday is a concept which Americans have been familiar with over the past 40+ years, however, it has actually been in existence for over 140 years. According to "[t]he term 'Black Friday' was coined in the 1960's to mark the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season. 'Black' refers to stores moving from the 'red' to the 'black', back when accounting records were kept by hand, and red ink indicated a loss, and black a profit." It also has at least two other lesser known connotations associated with "the unofficial start to a bustling holiday shopping season. In the 1960's, police in Philadelphia griped about the congested streets, clogged with motorists and pedestrians, calling it 'Black Friday.' In a non-retail sense, it also describes a financial crisis of 1869: a stock market catastrophe set off by gold speculators who tried and failed to corner the gold market, causing the market to collapse and stocks to plummet."

     "Black Friday" has always been considered a good thing for business interests because it serves as an opportunity to bring customers into their stores who either shop there frequently, haven't visited in some time, or who have never set foot in their place. Since it is Christmastime, stores can break out with great deals which not only draw attention but also allow them to get some things off their shelves to make room for the next round of goods. The public sees this as a good opportunity to get some inexpensive gifts for their loved ones they otherwise may not have thought of or perhaps couldn't afford at full price. By nature, this shopping day was meant to be a positive effort to enrich the lives of Americans over the holiday season. However, over the past several years, "Black Friday" has begun morphing into something else.

     When my wife and her friends began shopping on "Black Friday" many years ago, stores would open around 6 a.m. and run full steam well into the night. It was a fun time for the girls to get together, have a sleepover the night before, and then head out to their favorite places hunting for the bargains. It really was fun for them because there was a crackle in the atmosphere, other shoppers were just as excited as they were to be able to land the deals, and everyone for the most part got along in the stores and made it a festive occasion. Suddenly, it changed.

     Greed is a terrible motivator because behind all greed come dire consequences. News channels and local papers began covering stories of how shoppers had been caught stealing things from other people's carts and putting them into theirs when a shopper would get distracted or leave their cart for a moment. Arguments broke out in stores, turning into screaming matches, with many escalating into fist fights. People were being trampled in the doorways when stores would open, some of the injuries very serious, and there were even some deaths which resulted. All regard for another person's safety, whether an elderly person or even a child, are thrown out the window. The wild-eyed frenzy to make sure the deal was gotten by (a) greedy individual(s) is now a goal to be attained at all cost. To a substantial degree, we have lost our moral values and social ethics for the pursuit of material gain.

     Let's take a look at another point of view. Stores are now opening at 2 and 3 a.m., and this year I have really noticed that many businesses are jumping on the bandwagon of opening on Thanksgiving Day. Where is the sanctity of the holidays? There are living, breathing people who have to work on a day they should be spending with their families. We already have huge problems with family unity in this country with high divorce rates, parents not being parents, the effects technology are having with television, ipads, computers, video games...the list goes on! We do not need another factor disrupting society's welfare. Will there come a time in the not so distant future when all stores will be open 365 days a year with the true reasons behind the holidays being blown into a materialistic obscurity? My wife and I refuse to shop on the holidays, no matter how good the deals are advertised. We believe in preserving a long family tradition and we will teach our children to do the same. Material things really are not that important.