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My Turn: It's a dangerous world out there

By Monte Elliott
When we get out of bed in the morning we’re taking a big risk; a lot of things could happen before we crawl back into bed at night. Indeed, thousands of people who got out of bed this morning won’t go back to bed tonight. Many will die or find themselves in any of a countless number of life changing situations. That’s life.
Today countless thousands of people will starve to death, thousands will be killed or seriously wounded in war, many will die from heart attacks, strokes, aneurisms or other medical issues. Someone will ski into a tree and break hisneck, someone will fall from a rock face while mountain climbing, someone may drown in an ice covered pond. Hundred of people will be murdered today over the world. There’s no end to the ways people die each day.
Thousands of people will be killed in traffic accidents today. It could happen to anyone without warning.
Yesterday I was almost hit in a crosswalk by a lady making a left hand turn who didn’t see me. Had I not been watching the traffic from all directions, I would have been run over. She was talking on her cell phone.
The day before that, I straddled my bicycle on the sidewalk at the corner of Newsome and Innes streets and watched a serious accident almost happen. I had crossed the street while the light was red, and I stood at the corner watching the traffic. It always amazes me at how many people are talking on their cell phones while driving.
The light was red on Innes, and a lady pulled up to the intersection in the left-turn lane with her blinker on. She was talking on her cell phone. When the light turned green, this lady made her left turn without looking, pulling right into the path of an SUV coming from the opposite direction. Amazingly, the SUV driver slammed on the brakes and came to a screeching stop just a few feet from the passenger side of the lady’s car. It was a miracle!
The lady who almost got broad-sided didn’t even know she had come within a few feet of a serious wreck! She was still talking on her cell phone as she drove away. She must have been having a very captivating conversation.
I walk and ride my bicycle a lot. Especially when I ride a bicycle, I am putting my life at risk at every single intersection in this town! It is dangerous to cross any intersection, and I have learned that I absolutely must watch every car at the intersection or approaching from every direction.
Are they going straight and trying to beat the red light? Are they turning right or left? Are they watching the oncoming traffic?
I know that if I intend to survive crossing an intersection while riding or pushing my bicycle, I have to watch every single car. I have to watch what the driver is doing, to see whether the driver is paying attention to what is going on around them.
Believe me, a good percentage of drivers are clueless as to what is happening on the other side of the intersection or to the right or left or behind them. And one of the main reasons is that many are talking on their cell phones! Talking on a cell phone while driving is dangerous to every other person on that road or highway or at an intersection, whether that other person is another driver, a pedestrian or someone on a bicycle. People talking on cell phones while driving are distracted drivers; they are not focused on their driving. They are putting other people’s lives at risk.
When the lady almost hit me at the intersection, she probably would have had no idea how close she came to running over me if I had not yelled at her. (Yes, I called her a few names!) And the lady who came so close to getting broadsided the day before still does not know how lucky she is that the other driver wasn’t on his cell phone.
Get a clue, people.
So, if you happen to be driving and talking on your cell phone and you see some guy waving his arms (and maybe yelling) at you from the sidewalk, that might be me! I’ll be trying to draw your attention from your cell phone conversation to what is going on in the real world around you.
If I had a sign to flash to drivers like that, it would say something like: GET OFF YOUR CELL PHONE AND DRIVE YOUR CAR!!
• • •
Monte Elliott lives — and hopes to keep living — in Salisbury.
Have a ‘My Turn’ idea?
“My Turn” columns should be between 500 and 700 words. E-mail submissions are preferred. Send to cverner@salisburypost.com with “My Turn” in the subject line. Include name, address, phone number and a digital photo of yourself if possible.

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