Monday, January 16, 2012

Soap Box: Distracted Driving

Me and Gayla in 2010
Sister was my biggest fan, and I am still in search
of how she hung the moon so perfectly.
Do you see that beautiful smile on the right? That, friends, is the most amazing amount of sunshine within a gorgeous soul the world could ever imagine. I speak in hyperbole because to understand the depth of this chasm of pain our family, friends and I now suffer, you must first understand the immense joy we had in our lives when Gayla was here.

It has been almost a year since Sister was killed. I am dreading March 19 as much as I dreaded her birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas this past year because without her, happy times are just too sad to describe in words. Even when I lived in New York in 2000, I never went more than a couple of months without seeing my sister, and now a year has become an eternity without her. Every day it feels like this hole in my heart just gets bigger and bigger. If time heals all wounds, then time needs to get on with the program, Friends.

For those who may not be aware, Gayla was killed by a distracted driver. He told the authorities he looked down to put his tractor trailer back into gear as he down shifted in stalled and sluggish traffic rather than braking. No one was in that 18-wheeler's cab so we will never know if this is true or if there might have been a cellular device involved or even a moment to look down to find a new radio station or balance a toppling coffee cup while dashboard dining. Regardless, that truck driver was doing something that distracted him from his job...driving his rig safely. He plowed into the rear of Sister's little mid-sized sedan sending her barreling into a wire guardrail. The impact broke her neck and killed her instantly and robbed this family of our Gayla.

Distracted driving is the main contributing factor for more than 8,000 automobile accidents EVERY DAY. In 2010, more than 33,000 deaths of the 1 million lives lost in the last 25 years were because of automobile accidents. What else does AAA (triple A) have to say for distracted driving?

  • Drivers spend more than half their time behind the wheel engaged in distracted behavior.
  • Using a cell phone while driving quadruples your risk of crashing.
  • Eating, smoking, adjusting music or rubbernecking while driving can be just as dangerous as texting, emailing or talking on a cell phone.
  • Passengers are one of the most frequently reported causes of distraction, with young children being four times more distracting than adults and infants being eight times more distracting.
The official US Government website for addressing distracted driving can be found at, and it states, "Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety."

TAKE THE PLEDGE! I cannot encourage you enough! Don't let distractions get in the way of you driving safely. Even if you are a master multi-tasker, don't risk your life or the lives of others while driving. The fight to end distracted driving starts with you. Make the commitment to drive phone-free today.

Distracted driving kills and injures thousands of people each year. I pledge to:

1 comment:

  1. Oh, that's awful. Distracted drivers are everywhere. You never know if someone is under the influence, chowing down on a Big Mac, or texting. It's very scary. I agree that making sure the person you're driving with isn't distracted is important. Speak up!