Column: A new ‘Three R’s’ — Reading, riding and irResponsible

I’m fearful for the future of our nation.

Not because of President Donald Trump, even though half of the nation thinks he’s a buffoon.

And not because of former President Barack Obama, even though the other half of the nation thought he was completely inept as this nation’s leader.

I’m fearful because of the stupidity I see running rampant across the country.

On Saturday afternoon, driving on Union Street in Galion, I almost hit a kid, who was riding a bike. He was maybe 10-12 years old, and he was paying no attention at all to cars and drivers and stop signs. He was busy reading and texting on his smartphone.

Yes, he was texting and pedaling.

It’s a new version of the 3 R’s, “Reading, Riding and irResponsible.”

I never wanted to be one of those adults. You know the ones. We complain about young kids today and how they are spoiled and coddled and babied and never have to accept responsibility for anything they do.

I guess I failed.

Today, I’m going to be one or those adults

I’ve seen a lot of stupid things in my lifetime. I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my lifetime. But seeing a kid on a bike, riding cluelessly down the road, weaving from one side of the street to the other, is right up there with some of the more assinine things I’ve witnessed.

I guess that’s something else we need to concentrate on teaching our youth.

I’ve watched and laughed as people walked into doors and street signs and into traffic while reading, writing and texting on their phones.

Considering how stupid adults can be, it’s no surprise that our kids are copying our doltish behavior.

In horror, I’ve watched video and read accident reports about people who died because a driver of one car or another was reading or texting when they should have been paying attention to driving.

Distracted-driver accidents are at an all-time high in this nation. But only because the things available to distract drivers are at an all-time high. Drivers can talk on the phone, operate computers, listen to satellite radio, watch satellite TV and book their hotel rooms, all from the comfort of their front seat … while they barrel down the highway at 70 miles per hour.

It’s a little much.

One thing I’ve learned about people, if you make something for them that makes life easier — no matter how stupid or unsafe it is — people will use it. Adults should know better than to drink and drive, or text and drive, or do our hair and make-up and drive, or eat and drive.

We do know better. Still, we those things all the time.

And kids have picked up our bad habits.

It’s a frightening thought.

My parents warned me about the dangers of drinking and driving right before they told me to be home by 11 p.m.

I wonder how that conversation goes today.

“Honey, remember, no drinking in the car, no texting in the car, no movies in the car, no internet search engines in the car, no making after-prom hotel reservations in the car. And I’ll see ya Monday. “

Pretty soon, during Traffic Safety Town programs across the nation, organizers are going to have to address the problem of toddlers texting on their Big Wheels.

I’m only half-kidding.

In my email Monday I recieved information from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. A recent study revealed that two in five teenagers admitted to still texting while driving.

“The study, published in the ‘Journal of Adolescent Health,’ found that nearly 2 in 5 teen drivers age 14 years and older had texted while driving at least once in the month prior to the survey, despite the fact that 34 of 35 states in the study ban text messaging for drivers 21 years and younger. Texting while driving prevalence varied by state, from 26 percent in Maryland to 64 percent in South Dakota. More teens texted while driving in states with a lower minimum learner’s permit age and in states where a larger percentage of students drove. White teens were more likely to text while driving than students of all other races/ethnicities. Texting while driving prevalence doubled between ages 15 and 16 years, and it continued to increase substantially for ages 17 years and up.”

The email went on to say: “The increase in texting while driving at the age when teens can legally begin unsupervised driving was not surprising,” said Motao Zhu, the study’s lead author and Principal Investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “Graduated driver licensing laws could have an impact on texting while driving behavior: the earlier teens start driving, the earlier they start texting while driving.”

The five states where more than 50 percent of teen drivers reported texting while driving had a learner’s permit age of 15 years or younger.”

It’s time to start putting disclaimers on Big Wheels, trikes and bikes warning children about the dangers of pedaling and texting.


Russ Kent is editor of the Galion Inquirer. Email him at [email protected]