Changing dangerous driving behavior isn’t easy

A 70-year-old grandmother driving her 10-year-old grandchild to school runs a red light and rams a school bus carrying 48 children. At least 15 children on the bus were taken to hospitals, the grandmother was killed and her granddaughter was critically injured.

Soon after that story broke Thursday, two words came to mind: distracted driving.

Because of Maria Castillo’s age, I didn’t immediately jump to the conclusion that she ran the red light Thursday morning at Carey Avenue and Nellis Boulevard because she was busy texting or talking on her cellphone. Older folks generally aren’t as wedded to their mobile phones as younger people.

It could have happened. Or she could have suffered a medical episode. She also could have just blown through the intersection. At this point, we don’t know what happened. But what I immediately saw in my mind’s eye was a loving grandmother paying too much attention to something her grandchild, Priscilla, either said or did.

I say that because I frequently did it with my own children. I learned my lesson after I nearly ran over a child in a school zone while glancing at homework my daughter showed me from her passenger seat. Had it happened, a beautiful child would have been killed, a family forever devastated and my life essentially over — conscience quite rightly cripples.

The more I think about distracted driving, the more I know we’ve all been guilty of it. We’ve fiddled with the radio or CD player, spilled a soft drink or coffee or hamburger in our laps, kissed a loved one, straightened a child’s car seat, read a map, took a call. How we’ve done it doesn’t really matter.

But its consequences are borne out by government statistics. Distracted driving kills nearly 3,500 people annually.

In a very real sense, I was scared straight. My eyes now remain on the road, hands on the wheel. Ditto, it seems, for Carissa Rey, a 33-year-old associate administrator at University Medical Center.

In her native Montana, she admits she had as many as a dozen accidents because she was putting on makeup, brushing crumbs off her clothes, talking on the phone, thinking about everything other than driving. Fortunately, she never hurt anyone. She even rear-ended a school bus. And totaled her car when she ran off the road.

“I paid my fines and that was it,” she said. “I saw myself as invincible, the way so many young people do.”

And then four years ago, she came to UMC. She saw families torn apart as they learned in the trauma center that their loved ones, often children, died in car wrecks. She thought about how she’d driven and how fortunate she and her potential victims had been.

When her own son was born 11 months ago, the dangers of distracted driving hit her even harder.

“I’ve changed the way I drive now completely,” she said.

Changing behavior is never easy. If it was, a scenario served up by the feds would end distracted driving: Take your eyes off the road at 55 mph for 4.6 seconds — the amount of time it takes to read or send a text — and you drive the equivalent of a football field blindfolded.

That information may be enough to make some people change their ways.

Given that many children could have died in Thursday’s accident, is it possible that just talking about why a 70-year-old woman ran a red light could cause more people to change their dangerous driving behavior?

Paul Harasim’s column runs Sunday and Tuesday in Nevada & The West and Monday in Health. Contact him at pharasim@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5273. Follow @paulharasim on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
News
Mount Charleston Gets Heavy Snow, Fog
Mount Charleston saw heavy snow today, and fog in lower elevations as a cold front swept across the Las Vegas Valley. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Krystal Whipple arrested in Arizona
Krystal Whipple, charged in the killing of a Las Vegas nail salon manager over a $35 manicure, is expected to return to Nevada to face a murder charge.
Holocaust survivor on acceptance
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, talks about the most important message for people to understand from her life and experiences.
Holocaust survivor speaks about telling her story
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, tells of opening up about her experiences during Sunday’s event at Temple Sinai.
Jesus Jara State of the Schools address
Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara delivers his State of the Schools address on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Michael Naft sworn in to Clark County Commission
Michael Naft, chosen by Gov. Steve Sisolak to be his replacement on the Clark County Commission, was sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas police piecing together details of fatal shooting
Six hours after the fact, Las Vegas homicide detectives worked to reconstruct the scene of a shooting early Jan. 7 that left one man dead in the southeast valley. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dyer Lawrence explains college football playoff system proposal
Las Vegan Dyer Lawrence has a new idea for a college football playoff system that includes a unique scheduling component called National Call Out Day. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death row inmate Scott Dozier found dead in his cell
Nevada death row inmate Scott Dozier is dead. Dozier’s death ends his legal odyssey, which began in 2007 when he was convicted in the 2002 murder of Jeremiah Miller, but does little to clarify what’s next for Nevada’s death penalty.
I-15 southbound near Primm closed after ‘major crash’
A rollover crash Saturday morning involving at least nine vehicles on southbound Interstate 15 near Primm caused an hourslong traffic delay. Traffic was backed up to Sloan, live traffic cameras show. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death Valley visitors deal with shutdown
Visitors staying at the Furnace Creek Campground were forced to move from the campground following health and safety concerns due to lack of resources during the partial government shutdown at Death Valley National Park in Calif., on Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. Richard Brian Las Vegas Review-Journal @vegasphotograph
Half of homicides in Henderson for 2018 domestic violence related
Lt. Kirk Moore of the public information office of the city of Henderson police department speaks to the Review-Journal in Henderson, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. Henderson saw a slight increase in homicides in the past year. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak stops by Las Vegas Boys and Girls Club
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak kicks off his tour to Carson City, which will take him from Las Vegas, through Tonopah, and up to the capital city. First stop is the Downtown Boys & Girls Club.
Certificates for renewing wedding vows in Clark County
The Marriage License Bureau in Clark County began issuing a Certificate of Vow Renewal to married couples who are renewing their wedding vows on Jan. 3, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas flu season better than last year (so far)
Dr. Fermin Leguen, chief medical officer and director of clinical services at the Southern Nevada Health District, said there were 24 flu-related deaths at this point in the flu season. No deaths have been reported so far this year. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
The Las Vegas Valley’s First Baby of 2019
The first 2019 baby in the Las Vegas Valley was Melialani Chihiro Manning, born at 12:10 a.m. at Henderson Hospital. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas NYE Fireworks - VIDEO
The full show: A spectacular view from the rooftop of the Trump International Hotel as 80,000 pyrotechnics illuminated the Las Vegas Strip at the stroke of midnight. Fireworks by Grucci choreographed launches from the Stratosphere, the Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Aria and MGM Grand.
Snow in Henderson on New Year's Eve morning
Light snow flurries in Anthem Highlands in Henderson on Monday morning, the last day of 2018.
Sources: Henderson Constable may face more charges
Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell may face additional charges ... stemming from his spending of county funds, sources said. Mitchell was indicted earlier this month on five felony theft and fraud charges ... after a Las Vegas Review-Journal story questioned his spending. But grand jury records show even more extensive spending including ... an $800 dinner at steakhouse ... nearly 200 atm withdrawals mostly at gambling establishments ... and even Disneyland tickets. But his attorney plans to ask a judge to dismiss the charges.
Las Vegas NYE Restrictions and Enhanced Security
If you are planning to celebrate New Year's Eve on the Las Vegas Strip or Fremont Street, be aware that you are not allowed to bring backpacks, coolers, strollers or glass. There will also be an increase in security to ensure safe celebrations across town.
Catholic Charities serves up 53rd annual Christmas dinner
Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada and more than 100 volunteers served 1,000 Christmas meals to Southern Nevada's homeless and less fortunate. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @kmcannonphoto)
Henderson couple adds another school to their generosity
Bob and Sandy Ellis of Henderson, who donate to several Clark County School District schools, have added Matt Kelly Elementary in Las Vegas to their list of schools where every student gets new shoes, socks and a toy. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jeffrey Martin Added To Nevada's Black Book
Martin was one of four men convicted of theft and cheating at gambling in 2016 in Clark County District Court and sentenced to prison. The Nevada Gaming Commission voted unanimously Thursday to include Martin in the black book.
Raiders Stadium Timelapse
Construction on the new Raiders stadium continues in Las Vegas.
Buffalo Wild Wings security video
Security footage from a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in southwest Las Vegas captured a driver who repeatedly crashed into a vehicle in a failed attempt to squeeze into a tight parking spot.
The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village
Opportunity Village's Magical Forest added 1 million lights and a synchronized music show visible from all over the forest this year. The holiday attraction, which began in 1991, has a train, rides, food and entertainment along with the light displays. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Navigating the new I-515 southbound to 215 Beltway ramp configuration
After opening at 5 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018, the new Interstate 515 southbound to the 215 Beltway westbound freeway ramp configuration caused confusion amongst motorist. Here’s how to navigate the new ramp. (Mick Akers/ Las Vegas Review-Journal).
A record breaking donation of nearly $9 million to Girls Scouts of Southern Nevada
A record breaking donation of property valued at nearly $9 million was made to the Girls Scouts of Southern Nevada by the Charles and Phyllis M. Frias Charitable Trust. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal. @bizutesfaye
Kerry Clasby thanks the community for support after California fire damage
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about the lessons of accepting help as she has gone through the Woolsey Fire disaster, in which she lost many of her belongings. About 100 people were on hand for an event that raised about $7,000.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like