Texting and Driving – “He’s gonna kill me!”
For more than 20 years I’ve driven to work along the same familiar route.
It’s a short drive through non-descript suburbia.
While the surroundings have slowly changed, I’ve driven that route ten thousand times and I feel like I know it like the back of my hand.
Over the years, the journey to work has become second nature to me, and I’m very aware that familiarity can breed contempt.
While my old Volvo does have a CD (and cassette) player, on my way to work I prefer to listen to ABC radio news and AM.
For 10 years the familiar voice of Tony Eastley has been my sole companion on my daily drive.
Some might say I’m old fashioned, but I just don’t like all those distracting bits of technology (MP3s, podcasts, Bluetooth streaming etc) that are very fashionable right now.
So, as I set off for work last week for the ten-thousand-and-first-time and came to a roundabout only 300 metres from where I live, I gave way to a lady in a brand new Hyundai ix35 4WD who seemed to be looking down rather than straight ahead.
Now, most roundabouts have three exits, but the lady driver in front of me decided to make a whole new exit for herself across a traffic island, over a gutter and into a nature reserve.
While she was in a 4WD with presumably some off-road capability, her progress was halted after she came into contact with the park’s perimeter defences.
In an effort to stop hoons from driving onto the grass, the local council have placed vertical bollards around the park, and her brand new Hyundai ix35 came to rest impaled on a 60 centimetre-high railway sleeper that had been placed in the ground.
Realizing that the lady might be injured, I hastily pulled over and ran to her aid.
Like most people involved in a crash, she was understandably very distressed.
I found her screaming uncontrollably, “He’s going to kill me, he’s going to kill me!”
I immediately thought that she might have been on the run from a member of an outlaw motorcycle gang.
We have a lot of that happening in Queensland right now, according to our Premier.
Perhaps that’s why she was distracted and ran off the road in perfect driving conditions?
There was a hissing sound coming from the front end of her car.
She wanted to try to start the Hyundai to drive backwards and get on her way.
From what I could see, that wasn’t going to be possible.
I courageously told her that I’d help her out, and my first thought was to open the driver’s door.
While the Hyundai ix35 does have a five-star safety rating on ANCAP testing, I regret to say that the door would not open as the front guard had concertinaed backwards.
I heard more hissing from under the bonnet and, believing that an explosion was imminent, I raced to the passenger side and couldn’t budge that door either.
As the lady was fairly slim, she climbed into the back and exited through the rear doors.
She fell into my arms, hysterically screaming again, “He’s going to kill me, he’s going to kill me!”
As a psychiatrist, I hadn’t really come across this situation in my training, but by now a rather bosomy neighbour had arrived and the victim fell into her arms still screaming, “He’s going to kill me, he’s going to kill me!”
It was at that point that the new rescuer’s CWA training stepped in, and she said, “Cars can be fixed, I’m just glad you’re not injured”.
To which our hapless victim kept sobbing while she cried, “He’s going to kill me, he’s going to kill me!”
By now I was running late for work and Tony Eastley had signed off.
The crash victim had forgotten about her rescuer who holds a Certificate in Advanced Life Support.
There was nothing more that I could do but call a tow truck.
At that point the woman’s iPhone fell to the ground and I saw a half-written text message!
She wasn’t trying to escape from an outlaw motorcycle gang after all.
She was teeing up a meeting with Jo-Anne for a latte.
It was then that I realized that if I’d been a second earlier on that roundabout, it could well have been me saying “She was going to kill me, she was going to kill me!”
Please don’t text while driving.
Hyundai ix35 2.4 Elite AWD
For: Affordable, roomy family wagon with a five year warranty.
Against: Not able to drive over vertical bollards.
This car would suit: Anyone who doesn’t text while driving.
2.4 litre 16 valve 4 cylinder petrol
136 kW power @ 6,000 rpm
240 Nm torque @ 4,000 rpm
6 speed automatic transmission
9.8 l/100 km (combined)
$37,390 drive away (Buderim, Qld)
56 per cent of drivers admit to texting while driving.
If you text while driving, your risk of crashing increases more than 23 times.
Doctor Clive Fraser