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No phone call in the vehicle is worth the pain

The amount of time it takes to look down at our phones—that is how quickly our lives can change forever or even end. Sadly, we were again reminded of this last week when a driver on Richwood Road north of Detroit Lakes was seen on his phone one minute, and rolling into a fiery crash the next.

Although we didn't immediately know his name or the circumstances surrounding the moments leading up to his accident, our hearts sank for him and his family, who would soon be getting the news about him. It made us take stock of our own lives and how quickly things can change.

How many times have we all picked up the phone while driving? How many times have we needed to quickly "correct" our steering after looking back up again, but lucked out because we didn't accidently overcorrect? How many times have we all looked down at the speedometer to see that we were going a little too fast because we've been in a hurry to get somewhere? It would be pretty difficult to find a perfect driver who is only here today because they are just that good—most of us are here today because we've been lucky.

Let's not do this anymore. That man who wasn't as lucky was somebody's son, somebody's loved one, somebody's everything. If he could go back and do things differently with the same common driving decisions that we all make, of course we're sure he would. But like all of us, he didn't realize what would happen in that random moment when the sun was shining and it seemed to be just another regular moment of another regular day.

And while he cannot make that decision all over again, we can. We can still decide to put down the phone, to look around, to pay better attention like we all know we should be doing. We can think of the first responders who have to come upon a scene like that and make "the call" that they so dread having to make ... the one everybody fears they may one day get about their loved one.

And we can think about those loved ones ... think of the moment they get that call about us. Where would they be when they got that call? How would they react? Whether it be our parents, our spouses, our siblings or our children - they should never, ever have to get that call about us.

That thought alone should be enough to get us to stop driving as if our lives aren't fragile ... to stop pretending that that guy couldn't be any one of us at nearly any moment.

Almost all accidents are preventable ones - let's get our heads back in the game and start driving like we've got somebody in our lives that matters. No call is worth it anymore; for crying out loud, let's just hang up and drive.