It's not what you are eating, it's what's eating you…

Archive for the ‘impaired driving’ Category

In hopes to honor a recently local fallen hero…

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This above meme tragically doesn’t mean anything in relation to what I’m writing.

Because it wasn’t a local man who was 72 years old, and decided to drive drunk last night, who lost his car or his license.

He nearly lost his life and is in critical condition at a local hospital.

Horrifically though, he  killed a 30 year old female Minneapolis 911 operator who died tragically in that accident last night, on her way to work.

I’m heartbroken for the family, friends and co-workers of this amazing young woman.

I’m heartbroken as a citizen of Downtown  Minneapolis, who reveres all of our first responders, and feels safer because of them, whether they be 911 operators, police officers, fire department and our local HCMC EMS staff who are headquartered 2-4 blocks away from where I live.

I’m not saying the following, which I’ve said before, and after my last blog, the last thing I really wanted to be doing is writing another serious blog, given my disability sets and feeling so helpless about such tragic awful loss of life, in the last 2 weeks.

But in hopes that another person will NOT make the same mistake as that 72 year old man who drove impaired, last night, I will try.

As I thank our first responders, in person, everytime I see them, since moving to Downtown Minneapolis. I’ve thanked when I’ve had to call 911.

I’ve tried to thank them in past blogs and failed to do so because of my disability sets of not being concise, when trying to show being beyond grateful for their service, it was beyond readable.

I remember one instance, when calling 911, on July 4th in 2016, due to the PTSD triggers that I have, I thought because of being anxiety prone and having major panic attacks, due to fireworks that are set off in my neighborhood (I’m talking about people setting off fireworks not the professional display that occurs a mile away) , the year before, because it’s hard to distinguish I was so on edge, the next year, that I mistakenly thought there was a fire, across the street.

It wasn’t a delusion, it was a mistake on how light fell on a windy day, from where I could see, in my apartment window, in the parking lot across the street,  from being anxiety prone and when the 911 operator called me back, I realized what happened , that there was no fire and she made me feel better, because I felt awful, wasting resources when there wasn’t a true emergency, which I would any day, but especially on a day like Independence Day that’s super busy for first responders.

She kindly and patiently said, “we’d rather given the circumstances operate on a false alarm than not to not have the ability to help”, if there was a true emergency but it went unreported and it wasn’t so far fetched, and that I should feel good about caring about other’s people safety, as well as acknowledging and not minimizing my severe anxiety as it’s hard to tell when you can hear neighbors setting off loud fireworks, but cannot see them, if that’s what’s occuring or if it’s gunfire.

As such as in my case, where I didn’t feel safe enough, rational or not, to go outside and check.

So I’m writing this. I’m hoping that anyone doesn’t think that their actions, whether they get behind the wheel, drunk, looking at a text, looking at social media, being mad about something and driving recklessly, doesn’t have the potential to kill an innocent person.

BECAUSE IT DOES KILL INNOCENT PEOPLE.

And in this case, locally, we are mourning that we are NOW short one life saving hero, who didn’t have to die on her way to work, which she was an amazing first responder, because someone got behind the wheel when they had NO right to do that.

So hopefully anyone will think twice, before getting beyond the wheel impaired, for ANY reason, so this doesn’t happen again.

I’m so sorry for the loss of this lovely young heroic woman, for her, for her  family and friends, co-workers and the City of Minneapolis.

Editorial Note: I updated this blog, 3 hours, after I originally published, because at the time, that I heard more details about this tragedy, while the identity of the 911 operator had been released, I hadn’t seen any of the details released about  the identity of the drunk driver, who was a retired pastor.

I feel just as strong in my sentiment that people should not drive impaired, it shows that even people who do such good in the world, make horrific mistakes in judgement, that can tragically end a life of not just themselves, but an innocent other.

I’m trying to be as respectful as possible, given all the circumstances, in hopes that this doesn’t ever happen again. Or that it would possibly save one life, but I couldn’t ever do the greater good that both the 911 operator did in her life, as well as sadly from what is being reported about the retired pastor and felt I needed to be sensitive, as I could, given this particular local devastating tragedy.

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Distracted/Impaired Driving: A totally preventable soon to be epidemic, or NOT??

Disclaimer: I am not a clinically trained professional nor do I pretend to be one on the internet. Furthermore, I’m not a professionally trained public safety official, which is I’m sure a good thing, because if I WAS, people would probably have to do the equivalent of continual education regarding driving safely, ANNUALLY,  for everyone to maintain their driver’s license, which I’m kind of convinced is not such a bad idea.

Also note, IF anyone knows someone who is a danger behind the wheel, please contact the appropriate authorities, when it’s  safe to do so, in regards to both their safety and that of others.

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I’ll also admit that I am not eligible for a driver’s license due to the cognitive disabilities that I have, due the irreversible neurological damage sustained due to long term nutritional deficiencies from my gastric bypass.

And I’ll further admit, after not driving for over 9 years now, I’m not totally sorry, in today’s world, that I can’t drive any longer. I get an enormous amount of anxiety most of the time being in a car.

Before anyone holds that against me, for what I’m about to say, and I’ve said this before, when blogging about this topic, I see all the time, everytime I leave my house, the reckless things that people do behind the wheel. I see no less than a minimum of a dozen potential drivers who are public safety hazards, in a 30 minute bus ride, every time I take public transportation.

The catalyst though of this blog, which I’ve blogged about this before, is when having a conversation with my oldest tonight, when he was on his way home from his girlfriend’s house, where she lives 2 1/2 hours away from his home.

While there is more of an immediacy of my writing about this again, I would’ve done so, regardless of what happened to him tonight, as again, I see unsafe behaviors by both drivers and pedestrians, all the time.

Because I am a a blogger who believes in full transparency and it’s related both to my medical and mental health, there are positive things that have merit, for the reasons why I blog about,  such as public safety.

While I have a lot of things that I know my son should be proud of himself for, one of them is, taking the responsibility of driving, super seriously. While he will on a long drive, talk to me via bluetooth, he knows to keep his eyes and his focus on the road.

Incident #1, that happened tonight within the first 5 minutes of our conversation. An impaired driver was driving down the wrong side of the road, nearly broadsiding him, it was a road that wasn’t well lit, but because it was dark, my son between flashing his headlights and swerving was able to both avoid an accident and the driver by some miracle was able to turn around.

We got off the phone, shortly after that happened, which part of me was both relieved and terrified. And I waited an hour to call him back, knowing he hopefully would’ve cleared that stretch of highway, by then.

When I used to drive, I’ve been on that particular highway, I know how poorly lit it is, as well as there usually isn’t much in the way of police or highway patrol.

When I called him back an hour later, hoping to feel relief which I did, he was about 40 minutes away from home. He knows the anxiety I have with him driving, so about 3 minutes before he was to arrive at home, he gave me an update.

About 90 seconds later, he was very shaken, as when exiting less than a mile away from home (his last 40 miles of that drive, is in a well lit, busy highway that does have a lot of police patrol,  the last  exit has was on has 2 lanes, one exit to the  left of him, to make a left, the other exit to make a right(the lane he was in) and a driver behind him went to the right of him, nearly broadsiding the passenger side of his car, on a very narrow shoulder.

My son was probably 2 seconds from getting in a major car accident, if that car had to be so reckless to pass him that way, it’s almost a blessing the careless/distracted/impaired was speeding, because there was no where for my son to go, as there was a car to the left him, which he would’ve had to hit on his side to avoid being broadsided on the right.

My son, being fairly mild mannered, just took  it with a grain of salt. Which probably was the safest thing for him to do, which I will elaborate on, but hopefully it will warrant more discussion as well as input for ideas how to safely experience that.

I,  on the other hand, am now a stressed out wreck. I had felt such a sense of relief, knowing he was so close to home, that even though I know that major car accidents, including fatal ones, can happen within 2 miles of someone’s residence, no one wants to think about that, when it applies to their own loved one.

Even though I was terrifyingly reminded that happens all the time, tonight.

I have spent the last 90 minutes researching, as I’ve done before on both statistics for fatalities as impaired/road rage/distracted driving accident inducing fatalities and defensive driving tactics regarding impaired/road rage /careless/distracted drivers.

In being fully transparent, I do have to admit that while I have tried to instill safe driving habits in my son, which I have, unfortunately my son also learned what not to do, behind the wheel, as a result of the last year I drove, when I was cognitively disabled and my children lived with me and I wasn’t a good driver, then.

While I was ashamed about that then and tried to keep my driving to a bare minimum, both with and without my children in a car that I was driving, I admit that even if I wasn’t intentionally impaired by distraction or medication, I still was medically, due to the disabilities, that I should’ve known better but didn’t.

I’m saying all of this, to remove stigma. While I have more blogs in the works, about chemical dependency and internet/social media/smartphone addiction, in general, as well as road rage, motor vehicles, as I’ve said in the past, even no matter how unintentional (and intentional with road rage), become a weapon, that harm and KILL people daily, due impaired and distracted driving.

While we need more resources and we need that NOW, to combat  addiction, I think it would HELP enormously, to increase the criminal responsibility, liability and consequences as NOT using addiction or impairment of any kind or origin, as an excuse of any kind, once an addict or impaired driver of any kind gets behind the wheel and hurts someone, if not kills them.

The BIGGEST OBSTACLE that I face as an advocate/activist, is the “it can’t happen to me” mindset. I also understand that people are busy and multi-tasking is a way of life, for so many.

I guess the best but not easily understood to the masses analogy I can use for “food for thought” in trying to prevent these senseless deaths would be the following….

If one would NOT try to save someone’s life, whether it be a stranger or a loved one, with any kind of impairment or distraction, why would they do something that could endanger another, if they are distracted?

As capable as the most smartest, multi-talented individual that could be out there, NO ONE should think they are too smart to operate a motor vehicle, distracted or impaired in any way. If one wouldn’t think for a second of getting into a vehicle or even a non moving space with an impaired and/or distracted individual, why would they think it’s okay to do this, themselves,  behind the wheel?

It’s NEVER worth the risk.  So maybe we can ALL  agree and vow not to repeat, as I’m sure I’m not the only one who has done that before, going forward, not to EVER engage in activity that could bring harm if not fatalities, intentionally or not, in ourselves or another human being when operating a motor vehicle.

So, in addition, to pleading to start a dialogue for further prevention initiatives in combating vehicular fatalities and what plays a part in them, is to acknowledge it happens everyday. And that we have to do something about it. NOW.

Children go to school and don’t come back home, because they get ran over, when getting off of a bus, and getting hit by a car. Adults go to work and either don’t make it there or don’t make it home, because they get killed in a motor vehicle accident.

Plus all the various scenarios that people die in vehicular and/or traffic fatalities.

We were reminded on Friday, here in Minnesota, where snow is NOT a foreign substance that drivers usually aren’t familiar driving in, 4 people died, when we got the first snow of the season.

The only thing I can think of, that could help, in addition to more initiatives, is for people when NOT behind the wheel, practice mentally, of how to respond and NOT respond when facing an impaired driver of any kind.

Don’t retaliate, try to to keep calm, even though it’s an anxiety and adrenaline inducing  situation, which can hopefully try and help reduce how scary this can be, when going through a close call, by mentally practicing scenarios when at home, so that doesn’t potentially cause a vehicular accident of it’s own accord, somewhat understandably as nearly being in a car accident due to another’s unsafe driving, obviously is a scary thing to have to go through.

In my son’s case, I feel bad, I couldn’t in good conscience both then or in similar circumstances for prevention of this happening to someone else, of encouraging him try  to get information about the driver and/or vehicles that put him the situations TWICE, to call 911, as it would be unsafe for him and potentially make himself a distracted driver, as the road he was on, especially close to home, is a busy road with no shoulder to pull over and him concentrating on getting identifying information, could’ve been risking causing a car accident of his own accord, by doing that.

Hopefully this will lead to discussion on prevention initiatives and possible ideas for deterrents and much harsher repercussions for impaired/distracted driving.

In 2015, between impaired/distracted driving, over 15,000 people died and over 400,000 people were injured. According  to the CDC, 9 people a DAY, die to distracted driving and according to MADD, 28 people die a day due to impaired driving.

Note: I will only post constructive feedback. Again, nothing I do on the internet is monetized in any way. I put myself out there, in hopes to help people and if something can’t be said constructively or is possibly triggering to myself or another, it will NOT posted, as I am haunted every day for the mistakes I’ve made, even though I’m grateful that it didn’t lead to irrevocable harm in another, but that’s only because of both lack of intention AND luck.

I’m not saying I’m above criticism. But I no longer  drive, so I’m really NOT an issue, as far as this is concerned, so nothing constructive can come from misdirected anger, just because I touch a nerve, with the subject matter. It’s another if I misspoke and I welcome any kind of further direction,input  or advice, as well as if there are already major initiatives in place, but in my research, just didn’t find them.

Also note, in discussing impaired drivers, I’m talking about drivers who have some idea that they could potentially cause an accident. Meaning, for example, someone who has a form of of epilepsy, that isn’t well managed with medications, should know not to drive. Especially if they’ve been in motor vehicle accidents while having a seizure (sadly I know more than one person, where that has been the case, hence this is why I’m using it as an example) Someone though who doesn’t have a health history and suddenly has a heart attack or a stroke, some impairments CANNOT be forecasted and truly are tragedies that sadly can’t necessarily be prevented.

Edit/Clarification note: Sigh… Edits when proofing before publishing did NOT go through, I did have to edit (which I realize may be hard to believe, due to the length of blog) but that unfortunately require this clarification, as in it’s original published state, the few words that were corrected, TOTALLY changed the context of the point I was trying to make.

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