Deadly Distracted Driving

On March 24, 2015 on I-70 westbound in Aurora Colorado, police responded to a 3 vehicle crash which closed the highway for several hours. At the time, traffic was moving slowly due to rush hour. A semi truck traveling westbound did not slow down and crashed into the rear of a pick up truck. That pick up was also pushed into a semi which was in front of it. There was one driver in each of the vehicles involved. The two truck drivers were taken to the hospital with minor injuries. The pick up driver was taken to the hospital with critical injuries and was expected to survive.

On Saturday April 11, the driver of the pick up truck succumbed to his injuries sustained in the crash and died. He survived for only 18 days after being hit by the semi. He was 60 years old.

The cause of the crash was determined to be driver distraction. It seems the semi driver that crashed into the pick up truck was reaching for a bag of Cheetos on the floor of the truck. When he looked up, he could not stop in time to avoid the collision.

A Bag of Cheetos. Looks pretty harmless right? Other than the fat and sodium content, they are not dangerous or deadly. Yet, they are part of this story. The story of a man who ended up succumbing to injuries sustained when a semi truck crashed into his pick up truck on I70 March 24, 2015.

So, the Cheetos didn't kill the man. It was the distracted truck driver who reached over to the floor while approaching slow moving traffic who is being held responsible for the death of a human being.

Distracted driving is a factor in hundreds of crashes everyday. The statistics are growing steadily. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it has become one of the most dangerous and prevalent danger to all drivers. People are engaging in "non driving related activities" at an alarming rate, and with more vehicles on the roads than ever before, distracted driving is becoming a deadly behavior.

Eating, drinking, grooming (make up, shaving, brushing teeth) cell phones, texting, reaching for things, reading, changing CD's, and many other non driving related activities are becoming "normal" behavior for many drivers. I have seen people eating many times over my years of driving. I once watched a man eat a meal off a dinner plate from home-real china, with a silverware fork. It looked like a pork chop and a couple of sides-not sure what was on the menu. Obviously he had no hands on the wheel, steering with his knees, and he was weaving out of his lane. No one died from that incident, but reaching for a bag of Cheetos killed a man in the article at the beginning of this blog.

The dangers of distractions are obvious, yet very easy to succumb to. When a person does something successfully one time:eating food, drinking a beverage, grooming etc, they tend to try it again. When the behavior is repeated it becomes habit. "Now I can eat my breakfast on the way to work and save time". And so it goes for other distractions and behaviors. The patterns become normal and they are now a part of their driving and part of the dangerous environment that we all drive in.

As proven by the article about the semi truck crashing into a pick up which eventually led to the death of the pick up driver, distracted driving is not only dangerous but also irresponsible. Every driver out on the road is responsible for their own safety and the safety of all other drivers around them. Whenever anyone adds any non driving related task to their drive, they are flirting with disaster not only for themselves but for others.