"Son, do you know what you just did?"
Those words cut to the point of a recent Associated Press story about a tragic accident that left 13 dead in Texas when a pickup crossed the centerline and struck a church minibus.
The quote comes from a witness, who says the pickup driver was texting while driving. The accident took place on March 31, one day before the start of Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
In this accident, a trailing driver witnessed erratic control of the vehicle and even called the sheriff to report the driver prior to the crash, though nobody was able to stop the driver in time.
Road conditions and traffic are always unpredictable, whether driving in a rural setting, through the mountains or in Alamosa. It only takes a fraction of a second to change your life -- and the lives of other travelers or passengers.
The National Safety Council (NSC) is sponsoring the April awareness campaign because an epidemic is overtaking our roads: here in Colorado and across the country. In Texas, the 20-year old driver has been hospitalized by the incident. Besides his injuries, he faces serious repercussions from a careless -- and likely a guilt that he'll carry for the rest of his life.
The NSC says that over 20 percent of drivers between 18-34 don't believe that texting affects their driving ability, which conflicts actual research about the dangers of cell phone use behind the wheel. Statistics show that all age groups are guilty of distracted driving, but younger drivers have a higher rate of abuse. Apps and hands-free devices have proven unsuccessful at making cell phones safer on the road, which is why the safest decision is to put your phone out of reach before you get behind the wheel.
Unfortunately, the serious consequences of a crash like this will last for the rest of a driver's life, as well as potential lawsuits. The cost is high for even a momentary lapse of judgment, making the awareness campaign all the more important as we work to make the roads safer for everyone.