Dear fellow driver,
What’s it going to take?
No, seriously, how bad does it have to be?
Just how outright silly stupid dangerous do things have to get before you put down your cell phone and pay attention to the road?
I left Anchorage last evening, headed for the Valley on the Glenn Highway.
I suppose that requires some additional description for those of you who don’t, in fact, live in South Central Alaska. See, it was about 4 PM, the sun had set and the sky was turning pitch dark. It was snowing. No, strike that, it was snowing like a bitch with intermittent whiteout conditions driven by strong winds along the highway. In fact, it had been snowing all day in your standard issue Alaskan blizzard. The road itself was coated in an uneven, two to three inch thick, layer of packed snow interspersed between patches of black ice – because apparently ADOT no longer feels the need to actually get off their fat asses and do the job we pay them for, i.e. clearing the damned roads and putting down some sand. It was rush hour and despite the horrible conditions, homeward bound commuters were moving along between fifty and sixty miles per hour, which of course, caused even more blowing snow and reduced visibility even further.
Then there was you.
You were doing about thirty in the middle lane, drifting back and forth from side to side.
Cars were piled up behind you for a hundred yards.
Angry and frustrated drivers were recklessly swerving into both the inner and outer lanes trying to avoid the backup you were causing.
As I came up the inner lane, cautiously watching out for drivers dodging out from behind you and in front of me while fishtailing on the icy roads, I thought perhaps you were having trouble handling the conditions. I thought maybe you were one of the those idiots who doesn’t bother with winter tires, or maybe you were like the guy I saw the other day at the intersection of the Parks and Glenn Highways with three “limper tires” and one headlight. I realized that I was being uncharitable. Maybe, I thought, you were old, or had poor eyesight and maybe you were scared of the horrible conditions and simply being cautious. Less charitably, I thought that despite your (presumed) justifiable caution, you like most Alaskan drivers were pathologically incapable of understanding Left Lane Fast, Right Lane Slow or simply didn’t care that you were making an already dangerous situation worse.
But, of course, it wasn’t because you were being cautious. Was it?
No, you were texting.
As I pulled alongside your 4x4 SUV, I could see you staring intently down at your steering wheel oblivious to the road, the blizzard, and the traffic piled up behind you. You face was under-lit by the white glow of your phone. Your thumbs were moving madly back and forth over the screen like a kid caught in a Chinese finger puzzle.
Perhaps you remember me? I’m the guy in the green truck. The one that blew his horn at you when you began to drift into my lane.
Or perhaps not, since you just jerked the wheel to the right and never bothered to glance up.
So, back to my question.
How dangerous does it have to get?
Icy roads. Darkness. Blizzard. Three lanes of rush hour traffic. Even combined, that wasn’t enough to make you put down your phone and pay attention to the road.
How many lives do you have to endanger before you start paying attention?
You own life obviously isn’t worth it.
Nor was the life of the small toddler you had strapped into the child seat behind you. And indeed there might have been two kids back there, I couldn’t see the entire back seat clearly, just the one small hand drawing patterns on the fogged window facing me.
Nor was my life worth it to you. Nor the other twenty or so lives within your immediate vicinity.
So, one life isn’t enough. Twenty lives aren’t enough. So, how many lives do you have to endanger before you start paying attention? Thirty? A hundred? Is there a number that matters to you more than whoever it was that you were chatting with online?
Ice, snow, whiteout conditions. None of these things seem to be important enough to make you pay attention to the road. What would? An erupting volcano maybe? A forest fire. The return of Bearded Angry Jesus? A herd of enraged charging elephants ridden by crazed robot polar bears armed with machine gun lasers? What?
I noticed that your tailgate had two stickers on it.
One said, ironically, Watch For Motorcycles. Where? On YouTube?
The other one, even more ironically said, Abortion Is Murder. Let me ask you something. What do you call it when a clueless idiot like yourself kills her kids because she was driving through a fucking blizzard on a dark icy highway while staring at her goddamned phone? Would you call that murder too? Or just negligent homicide? What if you kill yourself and your kids, is that murder/suicide? How about if you kill me, would I be just collateral damage? How about if you killed twenty of us in a massive pileup? Serial murder, or would that be genocide?
You are a danger to everyone around you. You don’t deserve to have a drivers license. And if it was up to me, I’d take away your goddamned kids and charge you with reckless endangerment. If I could have gotten your license plate I would have filed charges against you for endangering my life. If I had been facing you on the side of the road I would have kicked your fucking ass. The fact that you are a woman bothers me not all, you deserve a good and thorough ass kicking – because there is apparently nothing else, short of cutting off your goddamned thumbs, that will get through to you.
You’re an asshole, a selfish, ignorant, stupid fucking asshole.
This country needs to implement a Federal law making texting while driving a felony on par with Reckless Endangerment and subject to severe penalty. The states are too damned stupid to get it done. It needs to happen at the Federal level, and it needs to happen right now. I’m talking immediate loss of license, substantial fine, and jail time for starters. I’m getting damned sick and tired of having my life and the lives of my loved ones endangered by these jackasses.