We spend a lot of time on the GJEL blog discussing distracted driving and the implications of the dangerous practice on a large scale. Since distracted driving contributes to the death of more than 6,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries each year, discussion about state laws to curb cell phone use behind the wheel is important. But such discussion can have the unintended effect of blurring the stories of those who have witnessed the most horrific impacts of distracted driving firsthand. So in honor of Thanksgiving weekend, I wanted to emphasize some of those stories, and memorialize some individuals who cannot celebrate the holidays this year because people continue to drive distracted.
In April, television host Oprah Winfrey featured a series of episodes on her anti-distracted driving campaign “No Phone Zone.” In these episodes, Oprah discussed the facts of distracted driving, invited celebrities (including the cast of Glee) to condemn the dangerous practice, and spoke to the families of those who have died. A particularly touching video of the segment can be seen here.
In honor of these people, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has launched a new campaign to emphasize the stories of those killed by distracted driving. Among others, LaHood’s blog interviewed the family of 13-year-old Margay Schee, who was struck and killed by a school bus driver distracted by his cell phone. See the video below:
What is truly tragic about Margay’s story is that it is far from an isolated event. Moreover, distracted driving deaths can be stopped easily if drivers would agree to put down their phones and avoid other distractions.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, keep these stories in mind. And as always, remember to be aware of holiday safety on the roads whether it comes to braving dangerous road conditions, or unnecessary distractions.