In August of 2011, Mark Chalin took the term ‘joy ride’ to a whole different level. That day, as Mark was driving down the road, he was having sex with Amber Menezes, 23 when they collided head one with 35 year old Jonna Martin. Upon impact, Menezes was killed. It’s believed that Chalin, of Minnesota, was going between 60 and 65 mph when it began to shift lanes, heading straight for Martin’s car. As she saw it come into her path, she tried slamming on brakes but with Chalin’s view blocked and his attention elsewhere, he didn’t try to slow down. Chalin was hospitalized for 45 days with 26 broken bones.
Mark, now 24, was recently sentenced to just over four years in prison for criminal vehicular homicide. He faces the chance of supervised release after three years. Chalin entered an Alford plea, which basically means that while he does not admit guilt he agrees with the prosecution that there is enough evidence to convict him. He claims he doesn’t remember what happens the night of the incident. Menezes is survived by her husband. Martin had two children and a fiancé.
Distracted driving, no matter how pleasurable, can change someone’s life in an instant and it is important to understand the hazards before you take to the road nonchalantly. You should also be aware of the precautions you can take in case you are ever faced with a neglectful driver like Mark Chalin.
Get A Room
Most of us can agree that sex, even in appropriate places, can be distracting but it certainly has no place in a moving vehicle. It may seem like common sense not to get down and dirty while driving but it probably happens more than we know. There’s a time and place for everything and having sex and driving should certainly never mix but there are other forms of distractions that the average driver participates in everyday that can be just as deadly.
Seemingly Less Distracting Than Sex: But Still Bigger Distractions
Simple things like eating on the run and talking to a passenger are considered distracting driving. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are three types of distracted driving: visual, manual, and cognitive. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) conducted a study that showed cognitive distraction could very well be the most dangerous form but any activity that falls into these categories can potentially cause an accident.
Cellphones are one of the biggest causes of distraction and texting has become a national concern. Many states have taken initiative to not only outlaw texting while driving but also talking on your cell phone. All of these activities take a driver’s mind off of the road and direct their attention somewhere else. You could have sent a text a hundred times or answered your phone going down the same road every day but there is always a chance that it could be just the one time that completely changes everything.
If you live in one of the states where talking and texting are outlawed, this means you can receive a ticket. In addition to paying the associated fines, your insurance premiums can go up. The amount they rise will probably be determine by your driving history. If you are a repeat offender, your insurance company may feel you are a liability to insure and make you pay a higher rate. The only way to avoid this is by keeping your focus on the road. If you do this and avoid serious distraction, you can also avoid getting a ticket or being involved in something much worse.
As a driver, you have a huge responsibility. Not only are you required to protect yourself, but you also have to make sure that your passengers are properly secured. Be sure to always be on the defensive as well. Other drivers are a risk. Just because you practice safe driving skills does not mean that everyone else does. When you get into a car, turn your cell phone off or at least place it on silent so you are not tempted to answer it. Don’t text and drive. There are even some apps that are available that will automatically respond to a text message while you are driving. If you have to eat something, don’t ride through the drive thru with the intention of eating it going down the road. Instead, stop and go inside or at least wait until you have arrived at your destination to eat your food.
If you don’t participate in distracted driving and keep your eyes and focus on the road, congratulations. Your insurance rates are probably admirable as well. But you need to know that not everyone is a safe driver out there. While you may have safe driving down pat, you also need to know certain evasive techniques if a distracted driver look like they might cause an accident. If you see a car coming at you head on, immediately apply your brakes just as Jonna Martin did correctly. If it doesn’t seem as if the other driver is going to let up on their speed, veer towards the side of the road if possible. Hitting another object such as a pole is going to be less dangerous than having another car run into you at 60 mph. There are no tried and true rules that will dictate the outcome of these situations. It can be a gut reaction that changes everything but by possessing the how to’s, you are a more confident driver.
Ask your insurance company if there are any defensive driving courses that you can sign up for. These can prove to be a wealth of knowledge and add points to your driver’s license at the same time. Score! With the number of vehicles on the road today, making all the right decisions behind the wheel doesn’t guarantee you will avoid an accident but being a good defensive driver is a step in the right direction.