HIGH POINT, N.C. – I love that song “Happy.” Don’t you? It just makes you feel so good.
On Thursday morning, 8:33 a.m. to be exact, woman was posting just that sentiment to Facebook while she was driving.
At 8:34 she was dead.
The irony of this is heart wrenching – perhaps that goes without saying. But it does go to show how in some moments – those when our minds wander, when we’re “multi-tasking,” when our thoughts are disengaged while we are doing something important such as driving a car – a split second can produce heart-wrenchingly tragic results.
The accident happened in High Point, North Carolina. The woman, 32, of Clemmons, shared online, “The happy song makes me HAPPY,” as she was driving to work. A vibrant young woman on her way to a glorious day.
In almost the same moment her Toyota Corolla veered across the median on Business Highway 85 and slammed into a flatbed truck. The truck ran off the road and hit a tree, but the driver, 73 years old, was not injured. The woman’s car went off the road and caught fire. The vehicles were going about 45 miles per hour when the crash happened.
According to one official, she was wearing her seat belt, but it was not being used properly. She was also taking “selfie” photos in the moments before the crash.
More irony. April is “Distracted Driving Awareness Month.” Statistics have proved that cell phone use, particularly texting, contributes to traffic accidents. The National Safety Council says that in 2011, 350 fatal crashes related to cell use were reported nationwide. But the council also reports that the statistics likely don’t even capture the full extent of the problem.
Why not? One reason is that drivers in crashes don’t always admit to cell phone use. Or if the driver is killed, there may be no physical evidence. If the driver was simply looking at a text or email, even wireless records won’t reveal that.
For example, there were extreme variances reported in different states. Tennessee reported 71 cell-related crashes in 2010 and 93 in 2011. But states with much larger populations reported far fewer crashes. New York reported 10 in 2010 and one in 2011.
Sometimes we think that teenagers are more susceptible to the temptations of cell use while driving. In fact, one study I mentioned in a previous post concluded that the No. 1 killer of teen drivers is texting. But as the crash mentioned above and others show, adults can be just as susceptible. One 2013 study done in California indicated that adult use is heavy, even with children riding in the car.
Yes, I like that “Happy” song. I like stories with happy endings, too.
But these stories and these statistics point in the opposite direction.