Tag Archives: Car Accident

Will You Take The Pledge?

by Richard

Oprah has one. Now AT&T has one. Will you sign up?

What’s this dude talking about, I hear you ask. Well, I hear some voices in my head and I’m going to go ahead and just say they’re your voices. Except for the one that tells me to take off all my clothes and run naked through the security screenings at the Charlotte-Douglas Airport. I know who that voice is and I hardly ever listen to him.


I’m talking about the no-text pledge.

There’s a great series of commercials running these days where people hold up signs with a few words printed on them. Those words are what they were reading in a text right before they had an accident, or right before a loved one had an accident. No text is worth it, is the message.

Oprah Winfrey has had a no-text pledge for a while in her no-phone zone. It’s a good idea. I even took the pledge myself in front of my three young dudes and, for the most part, I’ve stuck to it.

In a move mainly designed by PR flacks (the way I see it) AT&T has stepped up and also are asking people to sign their pledge that folks won’t send or read texts while driving. Remember those ads I was talking about up there a bit earlier? Turns out, they’re from AT&T.

Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, was watching the Olympics with his daughter when she saw it — an ad featuring a man in a wheelchair suffering from a severe brain injury and holding a sign with the text: “Where r.”

“This is the text message that caused the car accident that changed my life forever,” the man said.

According to Stephenson, the ad did its job.

“She said, ‘Dad … that’s heavy’,” he said. “I said, it’s supposed to be heavy. It got your attention and that’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”

The ad, from AT&T, is part of the mobile company’s “It Can Wait” campaign. First launched in 2009, the campaign aims to curb texting and driving, especially among young drivers. It will be ramping up between now and September 19, or what the campaign is calling “No Text on Board — Pledge Day.”

AT&T is asking everyone to visit ItCanWait.com before Sept. 19 and sign the pledge. My question is this: Don’t these folks know about International Talk Like A Pirate Day? It’s also on Sept. 19. I hope we can fit in both things. It’s going to be tight, but doable
Moving on.
According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project,texting while driving increased 50% in one year (2010), when 20% of all drivers admitted to texting or sending an e-mail while driving.

Teens report doing so at more than twice that rate, with 43% admitting to doing so in an AT&T survey.

People texting are 23 times more likely to get into an accident than other drivers, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

So, yeah, I think this is something we can all agree on. No texting while driving. I mean, that’s what the shotgun seat is for.


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by Richard

When I was growing up in Dallas, I taught her how to swim in our backyard pool. Our families had been friends forever. I went away to college and she grew up, got married and had kids.

This week she buried her youngest son.

The one-car accident occurred when she hit the breaks to avoid a suddenly stopped car ahead of her. Her SUV swerved off the road and crashed. She, her oldest son and her daughter were slightly injured. Her 6-year-old son, who was wearing a lap belt, died on the helicopter that was airlifting him to the hospital.

Her parents were waiting there, at the hospital. Waiting to take custody of their grandchild. Waiting to become the first family members forced to deal with the lifeless body of this once-vibrant, once-laughing young dude.

I never met him, but I kept up with him through Christmas cards, letters, and family gossip. I am the worse for that. We are all the worse for that.

When something like this happens, we all sigh sadly, shake our heads and wonder how the family deals with a tragedy of this magnitude. Let me tell you, no matter what kind of face the family puts on, they deal with it badly. Very, very badly. He was a part of their life. A walking, breathing wonderful and hugging part of their life and he leaves a boy-shaped hole in their hearts that grows bigger with every passing second that goes by without him to fill it.

There really are no words to express the sort of tragedy implicit in this. A child passing before his parents, before his grandparents. Far, far too soon.

I can’t really understand what she’s going through right now. What they all are going through. And, as selfish as it sounds, I hope I never do get that sort of understanding.

What I do know is they are in terrible pain, filled with anger and sadness and inconsolable grief and I wish there was something I could do to ease that pain.

My young dudes never knew him either and keep wondering why I’m hugging them so much these last few days. It’s only natural, I suppose. I want them to know they are loved and treasured and I want to reassure myself that they really are here. And are healthy.

I can only hold her in my thoughts and let her know she is not alone, that there are people who love her and will be there for her and will do anything they can to help.

I might have taught her how to swim, but there are some waters that must be crossed on your own, no matter how much we might wish otherwise.

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What, Me Worry?

by Richard

Over the weekend, I did something I thought was extremely risky. I let Hyper Lad ride his bike to a friend’s house. The friend lives a couple of miles away and — normally — I’d give him a lift there and back.

This time, though, I was in the middle of preparing dinner for 24 that had to be finished and packed away that afternoon. I couldn’t take him. So I let the little dude toddle off on his bike.

It was only later that I realized why it felt so strange. When I was a little dude, I rode my bike all over the place. To and fro in the world and up and down in it. If I couldn’t get there on a bike, I probably wasn’t going to be able to get there at all. Now, though, kids riding bikes anywhere other than in the immediate neighborhood is something of a rarity. We, as parents, are scared they’ll get grabbed or hurt or something. Turns out I wasn’t the only person who was worried about this sort of thing.

“These worries that we have are so rare,” says Christie Barnes, mother of four and author of The Paranoid Parents Guide. “It’s like packing a snow shovel in case it snows in Las Vegas.”

Based on surveys Barnes has conducted, the top five worries parents have are: 1) kidnapping 2) school snipers 3) terrorists 4) dangerous strangers and 5) drugs. I gotta tell you, 2, 3 and 5 don’t worry me at all. Maybe it’s a reflection of the area in which we live, but I don’t think school snipers or terrorists are all that much worry. As for drugs, well, I’ve got confidence in my little dudes that they’ve listened to their mom and me and they have half a brain. It’s the kidnapping and dangerous strangers thing that has me a little worried. My little dudes are somewhat trusting and I worry about the dangerous man in the van with the blacked-out windows.

According to Barnes, though, I’m being squicky over nothing.

As for children, Barnes says that overprotectiveness will hurt them in the long run by making them less resilient. “We’re teaching them to be helpless,” she says. “And because we’re so afraid of the world, we’re teaching them to be afraid of the world.”

What we should really be worried about, the top five ways little dudes get hurt or killed, are 1) car accidents 2) homicides by someone known to the little dudette 3) abuse 4) suicide and 5) drowning. Those, she said, are real worries. But what to do about them?

“I know it sounds boring,” she says, but according to her research, making kids wear helmets and other protective gear and buckle up in the car cuts kids’ chances of death by 90 percent and their chances of serious injury by 78 percent.

“We think worry means that we love our kids,” Barnes says. “So we’re kind of fooling ourselves to think that all this research and all this worry we’re doing is actually love… because it isn’t.”

The first time turned out all right for Hyper Lad. Now we’ll see if I can overcome my own fears enough to let him discover reality.

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