“Changing lives” sounds positive: people making big choices, and overcoming adversity.
I’m seen too many lives changed by just the opposite.
Failures that seem small—like a driver failing to focus—are often responsible for changing lives.
“I’m really not sure what happened”
On a sunny fall afternoon, Andy was driving home from his high school cross-country practice. He was (legally) stopped with his turn signal on, when his vehicle was hit from behind by a big semi-truck and trailer.
Andy was pushed into an oncoming car. His own car burst into flames. He was severely burned.
The truck driver could not give any credible explanation for why he didn’t see Andy’s car.
It seems that he just was not paying attention.
This is not a good excuse for any driver, let alone a professional commercial motor vehicle operator. His distraction caused permanent scarring and limitations to Andy.
“I didn’t see them at all”
A couple years after Andy’s crash, on another clear fall day, another truck driver hit another car (legally) stopped and signaling a turn.
The semi-truck and trailers crashed into the car while it was turning into a Washington State campground.
The truck driver was distracted: he just didn’t see the car until he was nearly right on top of it. The heavy truck pushed the car into the oncoming lane, where a heavy-duty pick-up truck smashed into it.
Two of the passengers were killed.
The third was seriously and permanently injured. The driver’s simple, inexplicable distraction caused two deaths, and left a survivor to live with many disabilities.
“Looked down at some paperwork”
On a winter morning in Bothell, Washington, Todd’s car was stopped at a red light when he felt the shock of a collision.
Behind him, a pick-up truck driver had looked down at some documents on his passenger seat. He failed to stop prior to hitting Todd’s vehicle.
Because this driver looked at some papers instead of looking at the road, Todd has undergone two back surgeries, and will have at least one more.
The driver of the pick-up truck, like the professional drivers, failed to perform the main task required when driving: giving 100% attention to the safe operation of the vehicle.
Distracted driving is changing lives. All of the drivers who caused these crashes would turn back the clock and start these fatal days over, if they only could.
But the damage is done. The failure to focus 100% of your attention on driving isn’t such a small failure, after all.