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Holster the Weapon

People use them daily. We use them as we go back and forth from work and school, as we take a quick trip to the grocery store, or as we take that long, repetitive journey across town. Am I describing a cell phone or a car? The problem with this question is that the answer should be obvious; operating a car and using a cell phone must be completely different tasks, but for some they aren't.

     

People give their cars a new radio, a nice wash, designer jewelry, paint jobs, and even a cute little nickname. Cars are like an adorable puppy. However, a car can be a killing machine. Similar to a gun, a car can expunge a person’s life in the blink of an eye. Staying focused on the road is repeatedly pounded into teenagers’ heads when they begin driving. After all, inattentive drivers cause accidents and ultimately ruin lives. A handful of states, including Arizona, do not have any laws that forbid texting and driving. Drivers must fight the urge to use cell phones when behind the wheel and change the way the states and society at large feel about this problem.
       

I am an eighteen-year-old; I know how attached people can be to their cell phones. I am constantly texting, tweeting, posting, liking, and scrolling on my phone. I’m like a kid at a candy convention, always excited on my phone. I can’t wait to find out if Adia liked my instagram photo, or if Brittney thought my selfie was cute, or if plans are being made among my friends to go out and get dinner later. My phone keeps me connected. I’m instantly involved, and I never miss an event with my friends. Therefore, I understand the desire to pull out your phone, take your eyes off the road for just a second, and send a hasty text. I've done it, I'm sure everyone has. I understand your texts, tweets, or posts may be important, but they are not as important as saving someone’s life, maybe your own. If a text is so crucial that you have to respond right away, pull over to a safe place, and then send the text.
       

I also understand how you may feel there are no consequences because you've texted while driving before and nothing's happened. But It only takes one time, one text, to send the child in the back seat of a car flying through the windshield and onto the pavement. Thousands of people die every day because of car accidents, and cell phones are a leading cause of those accidents. I know personally how one person's ignorance while driving can change the lives of others.
       

One warm, crisp summer morning, the birds sang their best songs, and the wind blew so gently it tickled my nose. My eight-year-old nephew and six-year-old niece had been staying with my family for the weekend. As our stomachs shook and made growls louder than werewolves in the night, we decided we wanted bagels. The two kids hopped into their car seats, I jumped into the passenger seat, and my mom took the driver's seat. “Y’all ready to get some bagels?” I shouted as I turned around to look at the kids.
     

“Yes, John John,” my niece replied in the softest little voice. I turned around and relaxed my back in the chair while a subtle smile stretched across my face. My head bobbed with the music, and my mouth watered as we got closer to our destination.
     

 Eventually, I noticed a truck approaching rapidly behind us. My mom was driving in the left hand lane, and the truck was in the middle lane. In no time, the big black truck was right next to us. I heard the rumbles of the exhaust growling like an angry dog. Our car started shaking back and forth like an amusement park ride. My body tightened; my smile faded; I gripped the side of my seat with all my strength. I looked over at the driver, and seconds later he started sliding into our lane. “Mom!” I yelled as the truck inched closer. My mom swerved left, and our car jolted onto the curb separating traffic and proceeded until, BANG!
       

My head circled around in a dazed confusion. My eyes focused on the branches on the hood as my mind tried to grasp reality. Loud cries ensued from the back of our car. My whole body was shaking, and a chill ran down my spine that caused my whole body to clench. After making sure everyone was okay (aside from my mom, who had a nice size bump on her head), I looked at my mom and said, “The man was on his phone, Mom.”        The truck that had just run us off the road pulled over to help out. My mom, fists clenched, jumped out of our car and ran towards the truck screaming, “Are you kidding me, you could have killed us!” In that moment, I realized we were lucky that no one was hurt or even killed. This kind of reckless driving happens every day, and some states offer no protection from this madness.

       

Next time you're at a red light, look to your left and your right. I guarantee you'll see someone using their cell phone. The few states with laws in place to protect against the use of cellphones while driving have seen a decrease in the amount of accidents. But even if the law does not exist in our state, we can still do something minor to save lives. Holster the weapon, keep the phone in your pocket. Refraining from texting while driving is not only for your safety, but also for the safety of the people around you.
       

Texting and driving is like smoking cigarettes. Every cigarette you smoke puts you in danger of death. Smoking is selfish. Your actions can have dire consequences for people around you. Second hand smoking kills, and so do your actions behind the wheel. The consequences of smoking are not always apparent right away, but they do show up at some point. Maybe the consequence directly affects you or maybe the consequences show up in a loved one. The bottom line is that smoking kills, and quitting smoking is a major challenge. The urge to smoke is intense. To quit, individuals have to fight that urge and overcome their selfish desire. Although it will be tough, that urge to smoke will dwindle. The longer you refrain from smoking, the more lives you're potentially saving.
     

The same goes for refraining from texting and driving. You are protecting people around you as well as yourself. Putting down the phone and staying focused on the road ahead shows you care. You could still get into an accident, and refraining from texting while driving doesn’t put a magical, protective bubble around your car or make you the perfect driver. But any accident you get into is more likely to truly be an “accident” and not the fault of your own irresponsible decisions behind the wheel.






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