Highway risk just got greater, as the media points to an escalating problem, not only distracted driving, but oxygen-deprived driving that one probably never even considered before. Do you remember holding your breath when crossing bridges as a child?
“Just in case the bridge collapses!” This was the playful statement made by 10-year-olds throughout the country as their parents traversed the many bridges built to support regular traffic patterns. Unfortunately, some people were not aware that it was just a game, like spin the bottle or the Ouija board meant to be left behind as one matured. Today, there is a growing trend among young adults to repeat this silly behavior when crossing bridges and entering tunnels.
A story out of Manning, Oregon has made the distracted driving danger associated with this behavior very clear to the masses. Whether or not the story of 19-year-old Daniel J. Calhoon will be enough to deter drivers from taking part in the holding of breath on bridges and in tunnels has yet to be determined. However, it certainly is scary enough to make this St. Petersburg resident want to spread the word.
The story, featured in The Two Way (by NPR), mentioned that Calhoon’s passenger car crossed the center line, smashed into a much larger, Ford Explorer before crashing into the tunnel’s side wall. This was all a result of the driver losing consciousness from oxygen deprivation.
Superstition did this young man in. Four people were injured in the distracted driving accident and one needed immediate, emergency medical care as a result of the childish game. The authorities are suggesting that the playful habit doesn’t have to be given up entirely, if that’s what people choose, but that it should not be something that drivers are participating in. For most, the ten seconds that it takes to cover the distance of the tunnel in question would be far too short a time to cause a loss of consciousness. However, traffic delays, a sudden need to stop, illness, or a host of other complications can make swooning a more likely occurrence.
The level of risk assumed by playing this game is not yet known. This is not something that the authorities consider when formulating traffic statistics. However, if the trend continues, then there could be reason to start recording incidents more carefully.
If curiosity is getting the better of you, consider holding your breath while watching this video, recorded by driver Geoff Huth. This video was also highlighted as a problem by The Two Way, as one can clearly hear Huth gasping for air by the time he reaches the light at the end of the tunnel (no pun intended).
In Saint Petersburg, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge might be one of the most likely targets of young drivers thinking to participate in this childhood pastime. Over four miles long, it can take a driver more than three minutes to cover the length. One can easily see how this would be very dangerous.
Though Calhoon was certainly not planning to pass out or cause an accident, his actions did cause harm to others and a great deal of monetary damages. It is very likely that he will be facing off against a personal injury attorney in court before long.