Tetra-Lyfe Blog #5

Tetra-Lyfe Blog #5

Tetra-Lyfe Blog #5

“Driving While Distracted”


September 4nd, 2017


So I’m starting to get better at the audio recordings and learning some tricks along the way.  Anyone who has studied English (or any language) at length comes to the realization the difference in styles regarding written and spoken form.  I was taught that a finished work of writing requires reading it aloud so that it should adapt intelligibly to a spoken form.  If done correctly, the written portion will be sound in reference to areas like syntax, grammar, diction, and pronunciation.  I aim to improve blending the two so I may form a solid method of delivery.  I took the liberty to add forgotten words or correct misspellings in prior audio blogs that hopefully in the future will become less of an occurrence.  Recording before I post the blogs will be one of my greatest tools in preventing future mistakes so any corrections can be addressed at that moment.  Whether you’re in college, writing a blog, or a public speaker, I highly recommend this technique not only to improve your writing but confidence in speaking.  Don’t be afraid to make mistakes or ask for help; it will show you where you’re weak points are and what needs improvement.


Wike and I didn’t enjoy speaking about the death of Jacqueline Sanchez Estrada nor will we in the future about anyone whose death that can reasonably be prevented.  We understand these events are certainly sensitive in nature and never a pleasant discussion.  However, these discussions must take place especially with young and inexperienced drivers.  We chose to speak about it because we understand the harsh realities of negligent driving and the consequences of ignoring discussion.  Knowledge is power and these tragedies rarely work themselves out by themselves for the better; it takes active participation.  We deeply care about our fellow human beings, sharing our love and concern that you may heed our warnings with recognition and sobriety.  That you may have this discussion with your loved ones no matter their age or driving experience before an event occurs where you’re in a “could of, would of, should of” scenario.  Once you’re there, it’s too late and a burden no one wants to carry.  We must focus on this moment, right now and decide what we can do to minimize future tragedies from occurring.  Not prevent, but minimize…


When Wike first suggested this article to me, I was quick to seek out the original unedited video of the vehicle crash which I found and watched in its entirety.  Out of 10 different websites I searched, only one, liveleak.com, showed the entire raw unedited video.  I told Wike that only at his request would I send a link to this video, which he swiftly refused, saying he may have nightmares if he watched.  With prior EMT and hospital Corpsman experience from my duties at the 29 Palms Naval Hospital Emergency Room during my Marine Corps service, I had no reservations watching the vehicle crash.  I’ve seen more than many Americans when it comes to graphic images and being somewhat desensitized, has allowed me to be proactive and not reactive during a moment of crisis.  I acknowledge how disturbing images such as the crash that killed Jacqueline can be for most people who do not experience events like this on a somewhat frequent basis and their reluctance to viewing them.  Most drivers her age are sheltered from gruesome car crash scenes because they’re too unsettling for most people in general, let alone parents or guardians to discuss.  As I mentioned before though, I challenge you, especially if you are a parent, to show your children when they are of driving age at least some content that we mentioned in the podcast.  I know it will be a very uncomfortable conversation and experience, but FAR less than living through the passing of a loved one due to an accident, death or the burden they will have to carry for taking someone else’s life or lives.  Should of, could of, would of…  Attempting to shield your child or even yourself from those graphic images deprives individuals about the grave reality of motor vehicle accidents.  We’re not recommending you watch these videos nightly for hours on end but perhaps once at least once a year to retain an honest perspective.


As we progress in the future, it must be acknowledged that mobile devices and other technological distractions will become more prevalent.  Creating laws that only fine people will not create a sufficient deterrent from a highly addictive behavior nor protect the safety of other motorists who do refrain from the temptation of using media devices while driving.  In many cases, I don’t think we as a society are able to admit how powerful the addictive temptation social media and our electronic devices play in our daily lives.  Obdulia made the claim in defense for her actions “We do it all the time.  All the time, trust me.  It’s like a reflex, and I never had an accident.”  She is partially correct in her statement while grossly incorrect about other portions.  However, her insight into it being like a reflex due to our compulsive nature is definitely true.  Drivers use their devices a lot more than they should, almost being encouraged by others who’ve adopted an apathetic attitude “monkey see monkey do”.  It is ok for drivers to behave irresponsibly until another driver using their device who isn’t paying attention slows them down or almost causes an accident.  I am guilty myself of having used my phone while driving but never livestreaming.  I am largely able to refrain from many of the temptations apps and services on the newer phones provide since I don’t own an ipod or android style phone but a simple TracFone.  It is by conscious choice I have acknowledged the addictive nature these devices create.  There are times out of convenience I wish I owned a newer phone but have learned to adapt my life where I don’t require one.  It has caused me to spend more time seeking other solutions that in the end, have left me better prepared and equipped for problems I encountered along the way.  Had I pursued convenience, I would have only found different problems with fewer premeditated solutions.  I most importantly devote more of my attention to driving ever moreso with the growing frequency of other distracted drivers.


We must also continue to acknowledge and comprehend that driving while under the influence of any drugs or prescribed medicines will cause impaired judgement.  For many young people, the allure of social media as a means to brag or show off about drinking and driving is in fact a growing reality.  The irony of these combined actions are double-fold.  The mixture of the two exponentially exposes those driving, their passengers, and others on the road at great risk of death or permanent injury.  It also sets a precedence amongst peers that this behavior is acceptable because they “got away” with doing something taboo not comprehending the real risks and selfishness of their actions.  Recorded video of crimes can also be used as evidence against offenders which they don’t seem to make the obvious connection.  I asked my friend who was an EMT for almost 10 years if he thought it would be appropriate to show students enrolled in driver’s education programs graphic footage of car wrecks and he strongly agreed.  He said that when people are insulated from graphic scenes and the grim realities of traffic collisions, we do drivers a disservice by creating a disassociated and complacent frame of mind.  He said when he took driver’s ed, he never saw any graphic images of car crashes of any kind.  I posed him the question “Why is it ok for television shows to promote so much violence that is based off make believe but not the factual consequences of negligent driving?”  It made me wonder a few questions like “When was the last time these driver education programs showed car crash videos and if they still do, which areas in the country?”


Harold Nutt, the chief deputy district attorney for Merced County where the crash took place said:

“Over the years I’ve seen case after case after case of horrific deaths and injuries as a result of intoxicated driving.  And I keep thinking, surely at some point, the public is going to get the message. But, it continues to happen. We’ve now added the additional complication of cellphones and the options available with those. It creates added dimensions to the whole problem of driving under the influence and distracted driving.”


We mentioned in the podcast that Manuela Seja, the third passenger, did not place blame on Obdulia for the crash claiming it was social media, an inanimate object’s fault.  Having done more research, I discovered that Obdulia’s parents also did not place blame on their daughter and wanted her to withgo any jail time, claiming it was a faulty tire; another inanimate object.  There is one Facebook group that believes Obdulia should face zero jail time while another seeks justice for Jacqueline.  If Obdulia is convicted on all 6 felony charges, she could face 13 years in state prison and is currently being held on $560k bail.  She has pled not guilty to all charges while her public defender claims that the alcohol and mobile device are not to blame but that wear and tear on a faulty tired caused a blowout.


So what are some solutions to minimizing vehicle accidents?  Well first I have to call out Obdulia’s public defender when he makes the outrageous claim “We have reason to believe the accident was caused by wear and tear on the tire, causing it to blow out.  That’s where we are focusing our investigation”  said Ramnik Samrao, the court-appointed lawyer for Obdulia Sanchez.  He never says that it is fact but that he believes, in an attempt to evade the obvious that alcohol and livestreaming played some part in the accident.  Perhaps he should be encouraged to retake the Bar Association examination so he is reminded that courts rely on a preponderance of facts and evidence, not beliefs.  To quote one of my friends John Crago “You can’t believe everything you think”.  I would refer Mr. Ramnik Samrao’s statement as “gross misconduct” in his attempt to divert all responsibility from Obdulia and place in on an inanimate object, a vehicle tire.  See the trend with these inanimate objects?  Unfortunately this attitude has become the norm in a highly litigious society we’ve created to avoid responsibility.  In California when insurance companies file claims, they seek to find the percentage of responsibility that all involved parties participated in the accident.  It is a direct acknowledgement that it takes two or more to tango and pursues what action the parties took to avoid the accident, if possible.  In the Marine Corps, we use a term called “Do your 360” which means doing basic checks on your entire vehicle such as the wear and tear on tires, to minimize accidents BEFORE you begin driving.  In California, the driver can be ticketed for failure of their passengers not in compliance of wearing a seatbelt since the safety of the passengers relies on a responsible driver.  Obdulia did not make sure her passengers were wearing their seatbelts nor did she probably do a 360 which would have brought the poor condition of the tire to her attention.


I’m not sure today how in depth most Driver’s Education programs focus on the different aspects of driving.  Perhaps some of our listeners could provide some insight into current programs within their specific region.  I do know that showing graphic vehicle accident footage would be an ultra clear way to send the message home to driving students the real consequences of distracted and negligent driving.  As stated before, it is moreso the responsibility of parents and guardians to properly educate their children about safe driving and basic pre-travel vehicle checks.  You know, the ones done before going on a long road trip?  I currently have a commercial driver’s license which is up for renewal next month.  Since I have not been in an accident in the last 10 years, the DMV does not require I retake any written or driving examination.  Although I admit I am pleased the opportunity to bypass them especially with my extensive driving knowledge, it doesn’t mean I haven’t created some bad habits over the years that could be corrected through semi regular testing.  It is easy to become complacent and further poor driving habits without reasonable corrective measures in place.  Our DMV’s are underfunded and their employees overworked.


Most newer phones have apps that allow users hands free voice activation methods to take calls.  There should be some apps that do text to speech for text messages and we highly encourage using them.  If you have a passenger, let them use your phone to relay the message.  If you want to keep it private and need to use your phone, not want, then just pull over and take the call.  It’s just that simple.


Lastly, find a designated driver if you plan on drinking or using medications.  I’ll repeat it one more time, find a designated driver.  A failure to plan is a plan for failure.


I cannot recommend in good conscience a length of sentencing for Obdulia.  I do endorse some punishment admitting that if she avoids any jail time, it will only serve to promote a lack of accountability when people consciously make poor choices.  If no responsibility is assumed, what lessons will that teach those in our society?  That we are inanimate objects devoid of any free will?  There are many lessons to be learned here from Obdulia’s mistakes and hope in good faith that focus will be placed on solutions towards preventative measures rather than a spiteful attitude towards her.  The heavy burden Obdulia will have to carry for the rest of her life by causing her sister’s death will be far greater than any prison sentence she may serve if convicted.

What I genuinely hope is Obdulia and her family may eventually find peace and a path that will help others to conceive the perils of distracted driving.  That it is a privilege, not a right to operate a motor vehicle and there are real consequences.


We wish that peace and love may accompany you and your loved ones during your travels.  Don’t forget to do your 360 every time before you leave to your destination, we’re counting on you!


Til next time, Weber out!

















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