Back in my pimpled days of 2011, before sleeping eight hours and eating a balanced diet became overridden with viewing sprees of “House of Cards” and an unnatural craving for the choco-rific release of Cocoa Puffs, I sat half-dead in a driver’s education class wondering how many minutes had ticked by.
On one of the rare occasions that I paid attention to the instructor, I heard a bit of wisdom that remained through the annual summer flushes of all scholastic material.
It went as such: A person has a much higher chance of dying on the road then they do swimming with sharks.
Back then, my pubescent brain probably translated it to mean something along the lines of this: Beware the day when sharks learn how to drive.
Though the prospect of a cramped hammerhead steering a Toyota Prius still intrigues me, I have started to appreciate the meaning of the instructor’s statement.
Now, I have never had the pleasure of swimming with a charming group of carnivorous demon fish, but I do believe I would find travel more comfortable in my 2004 Volvo.
Having said that, however, I still manage to do a striking amount of idiotic things behind the steering wheel. From peeling an orange at 35 citrusy miles-per-hour to figuring out a calculus problem mid-turn, my mind has the not-so-safe tendency to take my focus off the road.
Perhaps the booming gospel voice of Florence Welch emitting from my speakers does not aid my driving concentration either, but I must admit that no drive would be complete without a bit of the Machine in the background.
Though some mental warning would blare if I wanted to wear a steak suit to the nearest salt water source, I do not second guess answering a phone call when traveling down Randall at a (debatably) moderate pace.
As technology becomes more portable and street distractions more numerous, humans pay less and less attention to the road. For all the new “five star” safety measures and precautions, they do not do all that much when the driver cares more for his new Snapchat message than the oncoming traffic.
I do not aim to criticize reckless driving; every now and then, mistakes happen, and even the best driver gets in an accident. The “this might border on illegal” signal has activated in my head numerous times on the road, and I can imagine a great deal of woodland creatures scatter at the sound of my tires approaching.
I suppose the only way to start losing all the distractions is to focus on driving. Besides some avoided accidents, a person might also find some peace in their drive. Who knows, maybe one day driving can become as safe as swimming with sharks.
• Kurt Zepeda is a St. Charles resident and a senior at Marmion Academy in Aurora. He enjoys running, writing and the occasional confection. His column runs every other Thursday in the Kane County Chronicle. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.