Our son Brian (pictured above, with our family) was killed in a traffic crash in October of 2009. A young woman lost control of her car, crossed over the median on I-40, and hit Brian head on. The reason? She was distracted by using her cellphone.
You’ve seen them out there. People with their phones glued to their ears or looking down and texting while piloting their 4000+ pound vehicles, as if they had nothing better to do. Maybe you are even one of them.
Do you know what the most dangerous thing your teenager does on a regular basis?
It’s driving a car.
Traffic accidents cause 35 percent of all the deaths among teenagers. That’s more than all diseases and medical afflictions combined.
It’s even a worse problem in our own state. The most recent data from the National Transportation Safety Board points out that Tennessee has the highest rate of teen deaths per mile driven of any state in our country. This is a serious public health issue that threatens our children…more than cancer, school shootings or anything else. It’s not even close.
Traffic accident deaths overall have been steadily declining for 30 years. That makes sense when you think about better DUI laws, better seatbelt laws and more safety features in our cars.
But that number started going back up in 2012, rising more than 10 percent nationally. How could that be? Could it be the epidemic of cellphone use in cars? The facts are out there. Driving while talking on a cellphone – hands free or not – is equally impairing to driving ability as driving with a .08 blood alcohol content. Texting while driving is even worse.
Let’s reverse the trend and help save our kids’ lives. Teach them well, and set the right example. Hang up before you drive.
For more information about distracted driving, click here.
Written by Doug Ralls
Editor’s Note: April is Distracted Drivers Awareness Month. We thank Mr. Ralls sharing his family’s story.