February 22, 2011

Everything else can wait...

I live in Los Angeles and a commute is part of my daily life.  It's inevitable you need a car to get anywhere in this metropolitan city, it was not built to be the most transit friendly.  Los Angeles is actually considered on of the worst commutes in America   Thing One and Things Two have no choice but to be strapped into a car seat for hours on end to get anywhere fun. JOY!  Two toddlers in the back of the smallest car ever and Mami in the front seat chatting her little heart away because she knows I have no where to run to and have no choice but to listen.  Distractions are just waiting in that car.  Can I just say a Toyota Tercel was never meant to be a family car, but it is my circumstances right now and I deal with it. 

A commute anywhere with all three of my passengers is a challenge to say the least.  Add rain to the commute of a Southern California driver and it's just a hot mess.  I have to be extra aware of not just my driving but the driving of others. This is when I remember my driver's ed teacher in High School "BE A DEFENSIVE DRIVER". Nothing matters more than the people in my car, especially my babies. 

Saturday morning we ventured off to an early Gymboree play and movement class because we had a birthday party later on that day.  Normally I wouldn't be on the freeway this early in the morning.  Rain was looming over our commute, not a drizzle but definitely dark clouds hanging out. Mami as usual was chatting away, and the Things were comfortably snoozing to the mind numbing sounds of Rock-a-bye lullabies.  Twenty minutes into our commute home there it was, dust,  the sound and smell of screeching tires rubbing against the pavement.  It was on the left hand side of the freeway and we were in the slow lane. I could clearly see that this car was in trouble.  If I didn't slow down I would be part of this trouble. The car careened and was spinning out of control across the freeway.  My heart was pounding as I saw it move closer and closer to us. Luckily I was not driving fast and I saw it the moment the car lost control.  I hit my breaks gently and watched helplessly.  The whole time my thoughts were on the safety of my babies and Mami. 

When it all ended the driver was facing my car the opposite direction of traffic.  I placed my hazards on and allowed the driver of the vehicle to compose themselves and move off to drive himself in the correct direction of traffic.  All cars on that highway were stopped and no one was hurt luckily.  This scenario could have had a different outcome, but people were driving to protect others that day.  No cell phones in hand, no changing of radio stations, no reaching back to break up children arguing or to reach a dropped toy.  When I got home and made sure everyone was safe in the house, I shook from stress and cried. 

The Friday night before I had settled in to read my latest edition of Parent magazine.  I read the article on The Most Dangerous Drivers.  As I was reading I was shocked that women are the most distracted drivers, mom specifically.  That evening I read through the Driver Pledge and thought about my own mistakes while driving.  The article saved my life and my children's lives.  Had I been distracted you would be reading about the horrible accident on the 605 instead of my account of the whole ordeal on a blog.  

If you're a parent, a driver, a passenger I highly recommend taking the time to look at the pledge.  It could be your life or the lives of someone's family you could be saving.  I know my eyes are WIDE open now. I don't want me and my family to be a statistic.

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