BY BARRY WARNER
Cell phone distracted driving victim Jacy Good shared her emotional and painful story during an assembly presentation to juniors and seniors on Friday, April 12, 2013. She warned the students to disconnect their cell phones when behind the wheel.
In May, 2008 on the day of her college graduation, Jacy Good and her parents were driving home, when a high school driver distracted by his cell phone conversation, caused a multi-vehicle crash that killed Jacy’s parents and left her clinging to life. After her tragedy, Jacy joined ‘Focus Driven-Advocates for Cell Phone-Free Driving’, a non-profit organization that supports cell phone distracted driving victims and their families.
‘Focus Driven’ has partnered with the National Safety Council, through a grant awarded by the New York State Governor’s Safety Committee, to sponsor Jacy Good’s presentations across the state to increase student awareness of the disastrous impact of cell phone use behind the wheel. Also, her organization “Hang Up and Drive’ advocates for cell-free roads and legislation nationwide to help eradicate an epidemic that shatters thousands of American lives each year.
Jacy Good said, “Imagine standing in my shoes. The terrible accident changed my life as I had a 10 percent chance of survival and with therapy, had to force my brain to learn again. Twenty-six percent of crashes are due to improper cell phone use. The beep sound of the cell phone is like an addiction. You don’t have to pick up the cell phone and you don’t have to be connected! Have respect for people’s lives on the road, because your brain is engaged in conversation when on the cell phone, instead of concentrating on the road. I have shared my story at more than 200 schools, the United Nations and have appeared on Oprah’s television show and with 4,000 Facebook friends.”
Good continued, “MRI images indicate that the brain does not multitask well, as there is 37 percent less brain activity to focus on road hazards, when speaking on the cell phone. According to the National Safety Council, 15 people are killed each day and 5,500 people are killed in the United States per year due to crashes that involve distracted driving. Is a conversation on the cell phone while driving worth your life? I ask you to help and challenge you to make the right decisions. Young people like yourselves have the power to change the world. Turn off your cell phone and put it in the dashboard glove box before you drive and encourage your friends to do the same thing.”
Detective George Zayas of the Stony Point Police Department said, “It is important for young people to understand the consequences of their actions. They think that those auto crashes are never going to happen to me. Whenever young people are involved in an auto accident, it is due to inattention caused by talking on the cell phone or texting while driving. A car is a weapon at 3,000 pounds and at when its speed is 50 mph and your eyes are looking down while texting, it can travel the length of a football field. Don’t let us go to your house and tell your parents that you are in the hospital or are dead. The crash you get into has a ripple effect that causes others pain.”
Sending text or e-mail messages while driving is extremely dangerous, as it draws the driver’s eyes, mind and hands away from concentrating on road conditions. Drivers texting while driving display slower reaction times, have difficulties staying in their lanes and seeing red lights and stop signs. Drivers who type or read text messages contribute to 100,000 crashes each year, leading to thousands of preventable deaths.
High School senior Malvin said, “I will be making better decisions when I drive and be more focused, without using the cell phone. I will text a friend when I am out of the car and at home because texting while driving is not that important. Also, I will make the passengers in the front and back of the car put on their seat belts.”
High School senior Michelle said, “I learned that an auto accident can happen in the blink of a second. I will take precautions and put away the cell phone before I drive. Also, I will tell everyone in the car to put on their seat belts.”
Assistant Principal David Johnson said, “It is important that young people understand the damaging effects of distracted driving. Lives can be lost in a split second when students are driving and talking on a cell phone. This lecture was part of our character education program, where we emphasize the concept that better students make better citizens.”
Driving is a privilege and a driver’s license provides a certain level of freedom, but it necessitates a great deal of responsibility that includes wearing a safety belt, driving defensively and focusing on the road without texting or talking on the cell phone.
For further information www.hangupanddrive.com and www.nsc.org (National Safety Council).