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I recently attended an event held at Consumer Reports Headquarters that was truly a wake up call for anyone who has been guilty of texting or talking on a handheld cell phone while driving. In a study released by Consumers Union and the Department of Transportation, it was revealed that over 30 percent of young people admit to texting and driving. Additionally, in 2009, over 5500 people lost their lives due to distracted driving and over 450,000 individuals were injured.
But even more eye opening than the statistics, are the real people whose lives were irrevocably shattered as a result of distracted driving. Department of Transportation secretary Ray LaHood introduced the DOT’s latest Public Service Announcement campaign that shares the stories behind those statistics. I happen to have been sitting next to one of the victims’ family members who was featured in a PSA. Miss 2010 South Dakota lost her 21 year old brother Kelson Vaillancort when the driver of the car he was in was texting, crossed over into the wrong lane and had a horrific collision with a truck.
Take a look…

The event also featured Jacy Good, who lost her parents and was seriously injured when their car was thrown into the pathway of an 18 wheeler due to a teen who was talking on his cell phone while racing through a red light. Jacy told her tragic story at the event and shared her life’s mission to now speak out against the dangers of distracted driving. Take a look at Jacy’s recent appearance on Oprah…

It was also interesting to learn that when the Department of Transportation provided a grant to the police departments two US cities – Syracuse and Hartford that cracked down on the use of mobile phones while driving, the incidents involving texting and driving decreased by 90 percent. Officer Shannon Price with the Syracuse police department shared this information with attendees and expressed the need for this effort to be taking place nationwide. Incidentally, currently 30 states across the country have laws in place banning texting and driving. One of the states which recently turned down this initiative was Florida. That piece of news truly scares me to death considering my family and I were recently vacationing in Florida and saw dozens of drivers texting and talking on their cell phones while they were on the highway or navigating through busy intersections.
Consumer Reports features a comprehensive article about distracted driving and teens in their April issue and also offers information on apps you can download on your phone to protect your family. Additionally, the Department of Transportation provides a downloadable brochure created in partnership with Consumer Reports that offers a 6 step action plan for parents and educators on how to prevent distracted driving. Transportation secretary Ray LaHood had the best advice – put your phone in the glove compartment. No phone call or text message is that important to cost you or someone else their life!
For more information, go to Distraction.Gov or www.ConsumerReports.org/distracted.
Coming up on May 11 (7-9 pm), please join us at the White Plains Library, located at 100 Martine Avenue, where we will feature the second in our X the TXT Allstate Foundation series dedicated to protecting teens and adults behind the wheel. Jacy Good and her fiance will be our featured speakers along with Sgt. Luis Muniz from the White Plains Police Department. To RSVP, please email us at beth@rolemommy.com.

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