Distraction can be a danger whether driving, walking or voting


We’ve all seen the headlines.

A parent or babysitter turns away for only a moment as the child in their care toddles away, toward danger.

We turn our back with the pantry door open and a child uncaps a bottle of brightly-colored drain cleaner and chugs a big swallow.

It is unlawful to text while driving because it may cause major road accidents. Many people are killed and injured due to distracted driving in the United States. According to National Traffic and Highway Safety Administration (NTHSA), more than 20 percent of car crashes were associated with distracted driving. 

Even walking around isn’t as safe as it used to be.

Safety officials are getting concerned about distracted pedestrians because injuries to them are becoming more common. Research conducted by the Polytechnic Institute of New York University found that 48 percent of cell phone users stepped into a crosswalk while a vehicle was approaching.

Not paying attention definitely has a price. Nearly all of us can relate because of “close calls” we’ve had where, at the last moment, we pulled back into our own lane of traffic, or stepped back on the curb away from that passing vehicle. We picked up our toddler, pulling them swiftly away from the danger their tiny hands were reaching toward.

Too often, we’ve been at the brink and, through fate or the intervention of someone else, we safely pulled back.

Who will, how will, we be pulled away from the precipice our nation is poised upon? Who will adequately call attention to the poor job too many of us are doing in supervising ... not the tiny child who looks to us for safety, caring and direction.

No, the question of the day is who will convince us that too many in our government, elected and un-elected, are steering the apparatus of life, the rules, regulations — laws — that we all abide by in a direction that can permanently harm us? 

Who will save us from the imminent dangers of distracted citizenship?

It’s easy, commonplace, for us to get angry over the so-called “liberals” who, our politicians insist, want to take away our guns or kill our un-born babies. We rage over those who eagerly confiscate our hard-earned money and spend it foolishly on any number of tax-funded projects.

Headlines tell us every day of some newly-discovered government regulation supposedly designed to make our lives safer or better actually does just the opposite.

But most of the dangers of unsupervised government are being ignored. Voter turnout in America dipped to nearly its lowest point in two decades in 2016. Only about 55% of voting age citizens cast ballots that year, according to polling data.

Whether you’re pleased or petrified at the results, it’s important to understand fewer and fewer are making the decisions for everyone.

The evidence is clear right here at home. Despite the fact voting has never been more easy or convenient, fewer than half of local registered voters bother to cast their ballot. And, of course, that number isn’t nearly all of those old enough to vote if they cared enough to register for the opportunity.

I’ve said it before in these pages. Who is paying attention?

It wasn’t that long ago we here at The Times hosted two nights of questions-and-answers with local candidates for office. Fewer than one percent of voters bothered to turn out to hear what their thoughts were. Over two nights only about 80 people show up.

It wasn’t bad weather. It wasn’t “church night.” It wasn’t at a “bad time.” It wasn’t far away. It didn’t cost anything. Too many were all just distracted, not paying attention.

How long before we step out in front of that car and bad government runs us over?

• Robert M. Williams, Jr. is Editor & Publisher of The Blackshear Times. Email: rwilliams@theblacksheartimes.com.

Robert M. Williams, Jr. can be reached at rwilliams@theblacksheartimes.com.