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When ignorance becomes dangerous: A mum’s open letter to a selfish young driver.

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When you’re behind the wheel, it’s not the time to multi-task.

Dear late-model European-SUV driving P-plater. You don’t know me.

You’re possibly studying, or shopping on ASOS, or browsing your matches on Tinder right now, or doing whatever else 19-year-old girls do.

You’re probably blissfully unaware (read: ignorant) of how your selfish actions could affect someone else, or worse, their child.

Let me re-cap for you.

I drove into the local shopping centre’s car park behind you. In the narrow driveway, you pulled up to a stop, without warning, in a Post Zone to let your girlfriend get out and run in to Woollies. No harm done, I guess. I braked in time. My bumper remained intact. I patiently waited for your friend to fumble around in the footwell for her wallet and phone (even though my baby was crying, it was eleven minutes until closing time, and I had five cars waiting behind me, some not so patiently).

But then, you drove straight through a zebra crossing, without even a tap on your brakes, nearly collecting three teenage schoolgirls on your way. I could see you in your side-view mirror; head bowed, periodically glancing up over the steering wheel.

It was obvious that driving was your secondary task and texting someone was your priority.

You were completely distracted and unaware that you’d almost caused two separate accidents within as many minutes.

But the last straw- for me- was when you pulled in to a “parents with prams” parking space. The only space left in the car park. You didn’t have a pram. Or a baby. Heck you weren’t even getting out of the car. You just sat there, texting. Or on Facebook. Whatever.

So I gave you a little “bip-bip” (not an aggressive BEEEEP, which I thought you deserved) and then, when you didn’t notice, or show any sign of moving your vehicle, I shook my head, thought “What an idiot”, and I exited the car park. I pulled up in an adjacent parking lot – a 200 metre walk from the supermarket.

No problem, right?

I squeezed my station wagon full of bright young lives into a tiny space (Did you know that baby spaces are wider than regular ones? I bet you didn’t). I got Rosie out of her capsule, aiming not to bump her head, or damage the car parked beside me. I fumbled with her pram, conscious that my two little boys were still waiting in the car. I wrestled her, still screaming, into the harness. I extracted my resisting toddler out of the car by holding open his door with my hand behind wedged behind it protecting the car to the left. I used my foot to stop the pram from rolling away (the brake was on but in a carpark I’m still cautious). One day if you’re lucky, you’ll know how protective the maternal instinct is.

Once he was out, I used my knee to barricade him from running to the rear of my car (to the road). I unbuckled my preschooler and assisted him out of the car. I slammed the door shut with my ample mum-bum, and grasped my two little boys’ hands for dear life (with my right foot still securing the pram). Once I’d attached them to the pram via little straps on each side, we were finally good to go. I clicked off the pram brake pedal with my foot, but it got stuck, so my toddler walked into the handle bar, denting his forehead, crying, and sitting down amongst mobile and stationary vehicles. After another two minutes of negotiation bribery, we began our slow journey to the store (tired little legs walk really slowly, did you know?).

By the time I even got into the store, your friend was finished shopping and had happily hopped back into your car. You were on your way. Oh, no you weren’t. You were occupying that baby spot for several more minutes, depriving more mothers of assured safety for their precious little ones.

I’m trying not to let the fact that you drive an expensive car cloud my opinion. But there’s a bit of an air of entitlement about someone who wears an Allanah Hill cardi, texts on her smartphone and drives a BMW 4WD (simultaneously) and does as she pleases when it comes to making her own road rules.

Don’t hate you but I despise your careless attitude towards the safety of others.

Setting aside the legality (or, is it illegality?) of your actions:

I’ll tell you what (in my school teacher voice). You’re not entitled to endanger children- or anyone else for that matter. It’s a privilege to drive, and a responsibility to do it properly. Nothing is so important that you have to use your phone while you drive through a populated car park at a busy time of day. Or on a road. When you’re behind the wheel of a car, you don’t text people. Is it that hard of a concept to understand? If it is, or if you’re so impulsive you can’t control the urge to text, you shouldn’t have a licence. Provisional or not.

I’m writing this on behalf of the parents of the schoolgirls you almost collected. On behalf of a parent whose young child might one day have the misfortune of bopping out from between parked cars in front of you, because you won’t be watching.  On my own behalf, because you not only caused me inconvenience this evening, you put my kids at risk.

You’re probably oblivious to the upset you’ve caused me, I’m unable to sleep thinking how clueless you are. Unable to sleep knowing that you’re just one of many, many drivers who are preoccupied with their own lives, to the point that they can’t disconnect from their devices long enough to make a trip to the local shops and guarantee they’ll return without incident. I feel sick thinking “What if…”

What will it take for you to stop doing this ridiculously dangerous practise of texting while driving?

And you know those allocated parking spaces, for people with mobility impairments, and people with young children are not for their convenience? They’re not a luxury. They’re a necessity to increase safety.

I wonder if you also park in spaces allocated for mobility-impaired people? Because that would make you just… well.. shitty. Sorry, there’s just no other word for that behaviour.

It’s quite possible you won’t realise how dangerous and selfish you’ve been until you’re a parent with a young baby yourself. Because when you drive with another little life that you’ve created from scratch, delicately tucked into a safety capsule, you concentrate. You drive a little slower than the speed limit and you don’t care about being late. You don’t text. Because texting while driving could endanger the life of your baby. And it’s stupid. Right?

And although it pains me to think that it will take maturation or parenthood for you to change, what scares me more is the alternative. The sobering thought that in a split second, your life could halt when you cause a tragic accident because of your own selfishness.

And after all this, you’ll never read it. Your ignorance is the most devastating, terrifying thought.

My thinking you’re a moron is the absolute least of your worries.

Readers, what’s the most dangerous driving you’ve seen lately? Are you a more defensive driver since having a family?

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

 

 

 

 

17 thoughts on “When ignorance becomes dangerous: A mum’s open letter to a selfish young driver.

  1. A well narrated post about a worthwhile subject. I regularly see red P-platers on their phones while driving and only wish there was a hotline to the police so I could dob them in! I too am a teacher and in a way, am paid to lecture/be judgmental but it’s such a dangerous form of selfishness. If they were only endangering their own lives it would be okay (well not really) but it’s others’ lives I worry about.

    And I know what you mean about the luxury car and designer top thing – it rankles because it probably inflates an already high sense of entitlement.

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    1. Thank you Lee-Anne! Ugh, still cranky about this a week later, and I’ve noticed so many others doing it during the week.

      It’s so disappointing that instead of embracing her blessings and valuing her young life (and others’) she’s just being careless. Have a great weekend!

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  2. I don’t think I could have driven away after honking the horn. I am sure to get my lights punched out one day. I gave a teenager a lecture at the lights once. I got out of my car and went to see her after she’d tail gated me and was clearly abusing me and giving me the finger for doing 60 in a 60 zone?? When she started abusing me I just said. Geez your mum must be proud. She said she was…I said I doubt it. It’s the ‘I’ generation not the ‘Y’ generation, and I think that sense of entitlement was instilled by their parents. Let’s not allow that to happen to our kids. Mine have respect of other and rules etc drilled into them. I would die if my children grew up to be teenagers who behaved that way.

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    1. Hehe, Michelle! I felt like getting out and giving her an earful but I had to take some deep breaths! That girl you encountered sounds like a very selfish young woman. Makes me wonder what it will take to bring her into reality. I think you’re right, very important to raise self-aware, socially responsible children who know when is or isn’t the right time to be accessing technology.

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  3. Well said!! This sort of thing also makes me very angry. ‘P platers’ really do seem to be the most self-absorbed and have grown-up attached to mobile phones so can’t imagine being apart from them for a single second. Tickets make very little difference to these sorts of people. The worst ones are those who are involved in accidents and STILL DON’T LEARN.

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  4. Grrr! I would have been fuming! I’ve had the same thing happened to me. They are just so caught up in their own little world and have no idea what impact their actions have on others.

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  5. Unfortunately this isn’t just a young childless persons actions. I have a friend who I chastise every time I am in the car with her because she texts and drives. She has two children, so she really should understand the impact that it could have.

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