Texting while driving, by Flickr user ericathompsonEnlarge Photo
If you're planning to be out on the highways this Memorial Day weekend, you'd best focus on keeping safe and focused on driving. Patrols are expected to step up enforcement not only for drunk-driving and speeding offenders, but also for those talking and texting behind the wheel.
In 2009, distracted driving killed nearly 5,500 people and caused nearly 500,000 injuries—and holiday weekends are normally accompanied by spikes in traffic accidents.
"But statistics never tell the whole story," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, in a video release. "Behind these numbers are children, parents, neighbors, and friends—their families torn apart by senseless, preventable crashes."
Through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Faces of Distraction series, which we first brought to you last year, the federal government is attempting to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.
In a new release from the series, Jacy Good, said that her parents were very much aware of driver distraction. "My dad had a bumper sticker that said hang up and drive" long ago, recounted Good.
The Good family went to daughter Jacy's graduation from Muhlenberg College on May 18, 2008, and on the way back, an 18-year-old driver who was talking on a cellphone ran a red light, which caused a semi tractor-trailer to crash into the Goods' vehicle.
The parents died in the crash, but Jacy recovered from critical injuries. "We were just at the wrong place at the wrong time," she said.
Jacy is now a board member of FocusDriven, an organization founded by distracted-driving victims' families, and she makes appearances to raise awareness about distracted driving.
According to the organization, nine percent of all drivers are talking on cellphones, which makes them four times as likely to crash; and drivers who read or type text messages contribute to at least 100,000 crashes per year.
As we head into a holiday travel weekend, watch the video below (as well as the whole series, if you haven't seen it), spread the word about distraction and of this series, and emphasize this point: No message or call is worth the risk; when you get in turn your phone off, and better yet put it in the glovebox.