Wednesday, July 29, 2009

DWI - Driving While......What?

Intoxicated? Maybe, maybe not. All of us at one point or another have been driving under the influence of SOMETHING. It doesn't have to be alcohol drugs or marijuana. Consider this news story of a tragedy that took place in May of this year.

The driver who caused this fatal accident was driving under the influence - of being distracted. Here's the formula: DWI = Driving While Under The Influence Of. It could be: anger, frustration, impatience, talking/texting on our cell phones, etc. Do we get the picture?

It's time to do a little self-examination - not to embarrass or belittle, but to make us aware of our actions and what emotions may influence the way we drive and what we end up doing behind the steering wheel of our automobiles. A few scenarios to consider:

1. If you are riding in your local town and you're behind someone who is driving the speed limit, but to you, they're still driving too slow, what are you going to do? Do you let impatience consume you and you start to honk mercilessly at them until they speed up or pull over? Do you 'high-beam' them? Do you become frustrated and illegally pass them on the shoulder? Or do you wait behind them patiently, also driving the speed limit?

2. If you're riding on the highway and you see a driver trying to merge onto the highway and they're using their signal, will you speed up to get in front of them or will you slow down to allow them to proceed in front of you?

3. If you are riding behind someone riding a scooter or motorcycle, are you going to keep your distance and allow enough room between you and them or will you tailgate them during your entire destination, hoping that they turn off somewhere soon?

4. You're driving and you hear your cell phone ring and you're not wearing a hands-free device, what will you do? Will you take the chance and answer the phone call knowing that you're breaking the law by holding that cell phone to your ear?

5. You driving down a city street and you see a pedestrian, will you stop and let them walk across the street or will you continuing driving making them wait instead? At different times during our travels, we can be both pedestrians and drivers.

6. While driving, you approach a STOP sign, do you actually stop or do you fail to yield to it?

7. In inclimate weather (rain, snow) do you change your driving patterns (driving faster) knowing that this increases your chances of being a danger to someone else or yourself on the road/highway?

8. If you drive a SUV or truck, do you think you have more power on the road/highway?

How we react and respond to the above scenarios may cause or prevent an accident and can end a life - even ours. There are many other scenarios that we can think of but the point needs to be understood and it needs to be clear. DWI causes accidents and it claims the lives of many unexpectedly. A recent study showed that aggressive driving is a factor in up to 56% of vehicle crashes. Do our attitude and actions behind the wheel contribute to this number?

The next time we get behind the wheel, let's make sure that we are never guilty of a DWI - Driving While Under the Influence!