Distracted driving has high cost

Published 11:00 pm Monday, December 29, 2008

Now that a 7-month-old, a 23-year-old, a 40-year-old and a dog all have lost their lives on Holland Road in the past two weeks, it’s time for us to reevaluate what we’re doing as we’re driving down the road.

On Dec. 20, a family from Palm Bay, Fla., was driving on Holland Road when the car ran off the road and struck a tree. The 7-month-old boy, Logan Lovelace, died at the scene, as did the family dog. His mother, Ashley Lovelace, died four days later in the hospital. The father, Joshua Lovelace, who had been driving, escaped with only minor injuries.

In a turn of events normally only seen in horror movies, another driver, Joan Skupien, of Murfreesboro, N.C., ran off the road in the same spot and struck the same tree a few days later. She, too, died at the scene.

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Indications from the two accidents are that the first driver may have fallen asleep and the second may have been talking on a cellular phone while driving. I have no doubt that the drivers involved in these accidents were wonderful people, loved by family and friends and with a full life ahead of them. However, one is now dead and the other has to deal with the horrifying reality that his wife, son and dog might still be alive in a different circumstance.

The obvious moral here is that we must watch what we’re doing while we’re driving. While it is virtually impossible to eliminate all distractions, try at least to eliminate the most obvious ones. Don’t eat while you’re driving. Don’t talk on your cell phone. Don’t text, change CDs, let others in the car distract you, drive drowsy, or rubberneck at accidents, construction or traffic stops on the side of the roadway.

However, the single most important thing you can do to drive safely is not to drive while intoxicated. Whether it’s alcohol, marijuana or some other substance, if you’ve had any that day, just take the safe approach and find another way to a safe place.

If that means staying at a friend’s house, calling a cab or coughing up the cash for a hotel room, do it. Cab fare and room rental are a drop in the bucket compared to funeral costs, lawsuit settlements, hospital bills, increased insurance rates, court fees and mothers’ broken hearts.

There’s a simple rule when it comes to driving under the influence: Just don’t do it.