Driven to dis­trac­tion

Tragic col­li­sion shows need to set phones aside

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - Editorial Page -

Lit­tle makes us doubt that too much of some­thing — say, vi­o­lence in movies or tele­vi­sion — de­sen­si­tizes peo­ple to bru­tal re­al­i­ties. In news­pa­pers, the nec­es­sary re­port­ing of tragedies can like­wise lead to read­ing news sto­ries with a de­tached ob­server’s lack of emo­tion.

Not so on the news of last Sat­ur­day of a car vs. pedes­trian col­li­sion on the Uni­ver­sity of Arkansas cam­pus.

An 18-year-old stu­dent of the UA, An­drea Tor­res, was walk­ing in a cross­walk on Gar­land Av­enue near the North­west Quad liv­ing quar­ters when she was struck by a car. She died later af­ter she was taken to a hos­pi­tal.

Such tragic news, a per­son so young, just on the cusp of her higher ed­u­ca­tion pur­suits. So much to mourn.

But the cir­cum­stances of this wreck be­comes even more tragic in the de­tails. A 17-year-old girl was the driver of the car that struck Tor­res. We mourn for her, too, be­cause such a heavy bur­den can be over­whelm­ing for some­one older. Who­ever she is, we hope fam­ily or friends are sur­round­ing her with the love and at­ten­tion this young lady needs.

And for the rest of us, a clear les­son at a ter­ri­ble price. This col­li­sion, ac­cord­ing to po­lice, hap­pened be­cause the driver was dis­tracted. By what? It’s easy to guess days. By her phone. And it’s sad to say, every­body’s do­ing it.

Tor­res and the young driver are vic­tims of a so­ci­ety that has de­vel­oped in­cred­i­ble tech­ni­cal de­vices and put them to use be­fore most of us have fully ap­pre­ci­ated the harm that can come from their mis­use. We’re all re­spon­si­ble for our choices, with­out ques­tion. But this pair­ing of phones and driv­ing is ram­pant be­cause most have not em­braced clear-cut prac­tices for our own safety and that of oth­ers.

Seat belts, af­ter years of mar­ket­ing and le­gal re­quire­ments, are the norm when they once were not. How can we make new norms that will sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce dis­tracted driv­ing? Surely our uni­ver­si­ties can help.

But, in the end, each of us must make the right de­ci­sion to drive as though the lives of our kids or grand­kids de­pend on it.

Be­cause the lives of some­body’s kids or grand­kids do.

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