A reminder: We’re all terrible at driving and need to do better

courtesy of Washburn County Sheriff’s Office

When I came back from a week-long camping trip in Canada, I thought I would only be writing a fun personal piece about the vacation.  

However, when I came out of the woods and turned on my cell phone, I found out my grandparents had been in a serious car crash and that my family was lucky not to be planning funerals. 

It’s changed the way I see driving and I feel compelled to try to change minds too. 

Of course I was upset, but my anger is what surprised me — anger that this could have been avoided had the driver who hit my grandparents been watching the road, which is the very least you can do when operating a multi-ton pile of metal down the highway at high speed.

My grandparents were waiting to turn left into a greenhouse near Spooner, Wisconsin, in their small Ford Focus, when a driver in a Chevy Silverado crew-cab rear-ended them. 

He claimed he was only going 20 and hadn’t seen any signals on my grandparent’s car. He said he had looked away to check his mirrors. 

The accident report from the Washburn County Sheriff’s Office contradicts much of this, with police and witnesses saying he was going 60 mph and hardly braked before the impact. The 54-year-old walked away with a ticket for inattentive driving and little to no remorse for what he’d done to my grandparents.

A Saturday trip for some flowers left my grandfather — who is 84 and suffers from dementia — with deep cuts and bruises. My grandmother, 74 and his primary caregiver, suffered a brain injury of her own, which may very well change the rest of her life. A few seconds of a driver not looking at the road has changed my family forever. 

We don’t know what was happening in his cab, but I’m sure it wasn’t as important as keeping his eyes on the road.

I’m writing this as a plea to please, please pay attention when you drive. It’s so easy today, in our comfy modern cars to forget about how mad driving really is. Every day we are hurtling tons of metal at each other at high speeds — it can so quickly end someone’s life.

We all need to remember that inside every car we pass there are people, people who have families who love them very much. 

Slow down, keep your road rage in check and keep in mind that when you check your phone, “just for a second,” you could potentially steal someone’s loved one forever.


–Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com.

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