I know it sounds strange. I’m just driving here. I’ve got my hand on the wheel, eyes up and paying attention. Am I the perfect driver? Far from it. Don’t get me started on how many accidents I’ve had in my life. But, knock on wood, that all happened in my younger days–even before cell phones, if you can remember that. But now when I’m driving, I purposely watch the other drivers. I drive defensively. Have you ever noticed how many people use their phone while driving? Maybe it’s just me, but I watch people just as they’re about to go by on the two lane, and their head will shift down–especially if they’re alone. I can only surmise that they’re looking at their phone. Why else would their attention be suddenly diverted just as they know they’re going to safely pass me without hitting me head on? I guess if it comes down to it, I’d rather see them look down just as they’re about to go by than see them looking down and crossing the center line…
In the last couple years, I’ve had a number of vehicles cross the center line and would have hit me head on if I hadn’t made an aggressive move for the shoulder while blaring my horn. I can’t help but think what would have happened if I would have been distracted right at those few seconds. I’m not even talking about using a phone. What about all the other distractions in a car these days? There are the usual things that have been in cars for years and years like the stereo, heat controls, windshield wipers, etc. But what about cars these days? They have enough electronics to make your head spin–much less distract you. You almost need a co-pilot to control them all so you can concentrate on actually driving. I’m afraid the days of taking in the scenery while driving have been replaced with posts, texts and tweets to seemly make the time in the car more bearable.
A number of times, I have followed a vehicle that was constantly going over the white line (fog line). I know they’re on their phone. The only other reason they would be driving like that would be because they’re impaired, and if that was the case, I would venture a guess the white line would not be the only line they would be crossing. I’ve found myself rationalizing–well, at least they’re hedging towards the white line and not the center. But how bad is that? I’ve called 911 a number of times on vehicles that I’ve followed that have been driving erratically. I won’t get close enough to see the plate, but I’ll give them a description of the vehicle and the general location. They’re not being safe drivers, and there should be a consequence for that. They’re an accident waiting to happen, and I don’t want to be a part of it.
So I would urge you to call 911 next time you see an erratic driver–and it’s not even a matter of if, it’s when. There’s no excuse for driving like that. And please, if you feel the need to urgently post, text or tweet, pull over to a safe place. Because a lot of us are actually just driving here.
Guest columnist Erik Jacobson lives on the West side of Mille Lacs and is a Supervisor for Kathio Township and the Fire Warden.