With my left hand's knuckles turning white from gripping the top of a steering wheel, my right hand was shaking and trying to type on an iPod.
It is a scary thought, and even though it was during a distracted-driving simulator, it was eye-opening.
Eye-opening may be an awful way to put my learning experience. I took my eyes off the screen for half a second to read one of the many text messages and I drifted across the center line and hit oncoming traffic.
I will admit, I had some fun with the simulator initially, seeing how fast I could go and trying to make difficult turns with a very sensitive wheel -- but at the end of the day the program was called Save-A-Life tour for a reason.
As a reporter when I hear of a car crash the first questions are always: are there injuries, if so how bad, and was distracted driving or drunk driving a cause? There is a reason we ask if distracted/drunk driving is a cause -- it is common.
It saddened me that, while some Owens Community College students definitely took the distracted-driving simulator seriously during a program on the Perrysburg Township campus this week, I was told about some participants at other presentations who don't.
I heard about a high school girl who said she would stop texting and driving only if she were in a serious accident. Another participant said the program wasn't necessary because people know their own limits and he is good at texting and driving.
Why are we so ignorant? Why can't we learn from other peoples mistakes? Not that I am perfect by any means, but texting and driving is a problem the younger generation has and we need to take seriously.
It became reality for me when I did a story four months ago about a woman from from southwest Michigan whose daughter was killed by a driver who was texting. The incident was years prior to our interview, but you could tell the mother lived with the tragedy every day.
Her daughter was a police officer who was along the side of the road when she was struck by a vehicle driven by a teenaged girl who had just received a text message.
Seeing the tears well up in her eyes I thought of my mother and if something like that happened to me because I wanted to read a stupid text message and couldn't wait.
While the simulator was fun and "eye opening," seeing a grieving mother makes it real.
Please, I know it can be difficult, but such distracting tasks have to wait...don't text and drive.