Irresponsible driving requires reflection, self awareness

John Park, columnist

The door to the taekwondo studio opens and a 9-year-old orange belt walks in.

“Hello, sir!”

“Hello, Michael!”*

We run just another regular class, but afterwards, my co-worker comes up to me and shows me a Tribune article titled “Four killed in crash…” At the top of the article is a picture of Michael and his family. I find out that the night before, Michael’s father, mother and older sister had died in a car crash caused by a driver speeding recklessly.

Not only was I shocked and heavy hearted, I was also confused because Michael seemed completely fine during class. But I also noticed that Michael’s grandmother had driven him to class, and she looked extremely forlorn.

That is when it hit me and my co-workers: nobody had told Michael about his family’s passing away.

The next day, the door to the studio opened and Michael walked in. His facial expression was dramatically different from the class before. Witnessing Michael go through this terrible loss has been a very sobering experience.

This tragic incident served as a crucial reminder that whenever I am driving, my irresponsibility can directly cause pain for so many people. Hopefully, we will not need a tragic happening near us to serve as a wake up call to the simple fact: we need to stop being selfish and immature behind the wheel.

Ever since this incident I have been noticing a multitude of car accidents happening around our community, both fatal and nonfatal.

I do not mean this in condescension because I am guilty of it as well. However, I believe we have a hard time understanding just how much danger we ourselves pose whenever we are on the road. It is so easy to become threateningly comfortable behind the wheel and allow our attention to wander away from the safety of everybody on the road and in our car.

We all know that texting is one of the greatest culprits of stealing our attention. Texting while driving is nothing less than a blatant statement that my conversation over the phone is more important than the lives of my passengers and everyone else on the road.

Hearing kids brag about driving with their knees so they can text with both hands should be alarming, not amusing. Don’t be hesitant to call out whoever’s behind the wheel if they are using their phone. It’s your life on the line.

The reckless driver that left Michael parentless at the age of 9 was a 21-year-old man, predicted to be driving at over 100mph. According to his friend, he was likely showing off his new Benz to his passenger friend.

But instead of looking down on the stupid decisions that other people make on the road, let’s take a look at our own immaturity and selfishness behind the wheel. Every time that we turn the ignition we face the same risk as Michael’s family.

* Name has been changed