Moms

The price of inattention

Inattention blindness is nothing new; it’s been studied for decades. We know it’s a problem, so why aren’t we doing more to prevent it?
Inattention blindness is nothing new; it’s been studied for decades. We know it’s a problem, so why aren’t we doing more to prevent it?

Inattention blindness: “looking”, but not “seeing”…

It had been a long day… We dropped off our final load at the recycling center and were heading home when it happened, a little after six pm...

We live in a rural area, so it’s not unusual to see a variety of wildlife crossing the roadways…

On this particular evening, a baby deer paused in the middle of the road before darting in front of a Toyota Prius, the car directly in front of us…

The Prius hit the deer and kept going, stopping only after John repeatedly honked the horn and flashed the lights of our truck to get the driver’s attention…

The poor animal was pinned underneath the car, being dragged down the road…

After John stopped, I jumped out, just in time to hear the animal yowl in pain… I ran up to the passenger side of the car, saying, “You do realize you ran over a baby deer and it’s still alive, trapped under your car?”

Incredibly, the young man looked at me and said, “I ran over a deer?”

It was at that moment that I heard someone else-a disembodied voice-coming from the dash of the car- “You just ran over a baby deer?”

“Oh my God, I can feel it moving below me!!!”

The only way to free the deer was for the Prius to back up…Suffice it to say, it was a horrible thing to witness…

The driver’s only concern? The condition of his car…

Somehow, the deer managed to push itself upright on a broken foreleg and it stumbled off into the woods, terrified and bleeding…

Now, I understand the baby deer bolted into the path of the car; that certainly wasn’t the driver’s fault. That being said, maybe if the young man hadn’t been talking on his phone-albeit hands-free, he could have slowed down or at a minimum not driven approximately 25-30 feet with a small animal stuck under his vehicle.

It was clear to us that he never saw it, nor did it seem to have registered with him that he ran something over until I told him so…

The incident really upset me more than it probably would have anyone else…

I couldn’t stop thinking about how the deer was the size of my neighbor’s seven-year old son…

I talk about inattention blindness while driving on a regular basis, but I’ve never seen an incident caused by it before now.

For years, I’ve told myself Brian didn’t look when he made his left turn…but maybe he did. Maybe he looked, but didn’t actually see the trucks because his mind was still focused on his phone call.

Does it matter? Absolutely not. The outcome for us-and for him-is still the same.

Inattention blindness is nothing new; it’s been studied for decades. We know it’s a problem, so why aren’t we doing more to prevent it?

It shouldn’t take a tragedy (or many) to get us to do what we’re supposed to do-to focus on driving while driving.

Brian paid the ultimate price for his moment of inattention-we have to live with the consequences of that decision.

It’s a life sentence that no one should ever have to serve.

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