VSP Superintendent: Let’s Drive to Save Lives

The conversation always begins with a knock on a door. It’s one of the hardest responsibilities of a public safety professional’s job – delivering a death message. Telling someone that his or her loved one won’t be coming home today, tonight, tomorrow, ever. Sadly, that tragic conversation has already taken place in living rooms across Virginia more than 130 times in just the first three months of this year. There’s a good chance another will take place today, possibly even as this blog is being read. I’ve been with state police for 38 years. I’ve done more than my share of death notifications in my career. They never get any easier.  As a state trooper, police officer or sheriff’s deputy, you never forget them – nor do the parents or spouses or siblings or children who have to receive them. This is the side of the fatal traffic crash the media don’t show on the news. It’s the part of the fatal traffic crash that only the victims’ family and the law enforcement officer are there to witness and endure. I’m not writing this to be the grim reaper and try to scare you into being a better driver. What I want is for Virginians to have a better of understanding of why being a safe, smart, sober, and responsible driver is so important. There is no shortcut to safety. Since Virginia’s legislators made texting while driving a primary violation last July, state troopers have already cited more than 500 drivers for failing to obey the law. Will we know if you’re texting and driving? Yes.  During the course of an investigation into a traffic crash, a trooper has the right to check your phone for the date and times you were using it and then the investigating officer can charge you for breaking the law that strictly forbids drivers to text and drive at the same time. Driving is a privilege, not a right. You are operating a multi-ton vehicle that has the ability to kill or injure another human being. You know how they say – guns don’t kill, people do. Well, cars, pickups and SUVs don’t kill either, drivers do. As a distracted, drunk, drugged, aggressive, or reckless driver, you put your life at risk and the lives of everyone else sharing the road with you. With a vehicle, it takes only a split second to change the course of your life and someone else’s. What’s your future? Have plans? Want to graduate school? Hoping to land that great job? Getting married? Looking forward to your child’s birth? Can’t wait to get to your vacation destination? The decisions and choices you make today directly impact your tomorrow and what’s to come of your future. Be in control of your future by being in control of your choices. Make the smart choice to not drive distracted. Set the example for your children. Don’t risk your life and others’ lives by failing to resist that call or send that text while behind the wheel. If that’s not convincing enough, then think about what the trooper, officer or deputy will be telling your loved one after that knock on the door. Think about how your parents, spouse, child, or sibling will react when he or she learns that you won’t be coming home because of your careless, selfish, reckless behavior. Don’t drive distracted. Don’t break the law. It’s your choice. Just keep your eyes on the road and drive. Let’s drive to save lives. It’s really that simple. Colonel Steve Flaherty Virginia State Police Superintendent

Filed Under: Distracted Driving