Hope for the Human Spirit

Posted April 8, 2016 at 5:45 am by

This sto­ry was con­tributed by Deb­bi Fincher…

Luke and Zach Fincher and their Nana - Contributed photo

Luke and Zach Fincher and their Nana - Contributed photo

We lost our son’s nana to a man tex­ting and dri­ving about four years ago. The tex­ting dri­ver was also killed and the crash took the life of a third per­son, as well. Sev­en cars were impact­ed when this per­son chose to text and drive.

No one ever thinks it will hap­pen to them. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, near­ly 431,000 peo­ple were injured in a dis­tract­ed dri­ver caused crash in 2014, in the US alone. That is like fill­ing the Seat­tle Mariner’s Safe­co Field eight times! Anoth­er 3,179 peo­ple were killed in crash­es involv­ing a dis­tract­ed driver.

My son and I attend­ed a con­fer­ence in Chica­go recent­ly with the Nation­al Safe­ty Coun­cil to share our sto­ry. The room was filled with oth­er peo­ple who were left behind when a loved one died in a dis­tract­ed-dri­ving crash. These need­less crash­es claimed the life of a vibrant fam­i­ly mem­ber. This sur­vivor advo­cates group was not a group our fam­i­ly ever thought we’d be part of, nor would we wish mem­ber­ship on any­one else. How­ev­er, with vehi­cle crash­es as the lead­ing cause of work­place death, with dis­trac­tion as a top fac­tor, and dis­tract­ed dri­ving the lead­ing cause of death among teens in Amer­i­ca, we fig­ured it’s time we start doing more about this.

The goal of this group is to share our sto­ries in hope that some­day oth­ers won’t have a dis­tract­ed-dri­ving sto­ry to tell. Some of us are moved to help change laws or advo­cate for stiffer penal­ties to help pro­tect peo­ple from them­selves and from harm­ing oth­ers. Some will speak to youth, faith groups, schools, and busi­ness­es on how to curb this epi­dem­ic. Oth­ers will find their path leads them to learn­ing how we pick up the pieces after such a dev­as­tat­ing, pre­ventable loss, how we real­ize that life does go on, although for­ev­er altered, and how we help oth­ers. Regard­less where our paths go, they are for­ev­er woven togeth­er as a sup­port sys­tem, and for that we are grateful.

Hope is the biggest take­away from spend­ing time with these strong and self­less advo­cates. How much eas­i­er it would be to just stay frozen in grief and pain. To be moved to action, so oth­ers won’t have to go through this type of sor­row and loss, brings hope to the human spir­it that was dam­aged by the act of dis­tract­ed dri­ving. Shar­ing infor­ma­tion to help cre­ate change, speak­ing up at a leg­isla­tive hear­ing, meet­ing with com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers to encour­age com­pa­ny poli­cies for employ­ees not to use devices while dri­ving, all of these things bring hope to this issue. We don’t have to let this trend con­tin­ue. We hope you will be moved to focus on your dri­ve and not wait until you are direct­ly affect­ed by dis­tract­ed dri­ving like we were. Remove the dis­trac­tions from your ride. We are here to tell you, it can hap­pen to you.

Let me break this down by telling you a few facts: Did you know, in over 30 stud­ies researchers from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Utah found no ben­e­fit to using a hands-free device (as com­pared to a hand-held device). Mul­ti­task­ing, or “cog­ni­tive dis­trac­tion,” is a com­pli­cat­ed request for your brain, and dri­ving while talk­ing on the phone can reduce your field of vision. Basi­cal­ly, we lim­it the area our brain is view­ing out the wind­shield, which could result in miss­ing valu­able infor­ma­tion to avoid a car crash. AAA.com/distraction has even more on this ground­break­ing research that the AAA Foun­da­tion for Traf­fic Safe­ty col­lab­o­rat­ed on with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Utah.

The NSC has cre­at­ed a cam­paign called #Take­Back­Y­our­Drive and it’s per­fect­ly timed to launch with Dis­tract­ed Dri­ving Aware­ness Month in April across the U.S. Instead of try­ing to con­duct busi­ness on the road or catch­ing up on your phone calls, maybe you can use this time in your car to recharge your own bat­ter­ies. nsc.org

The NSC sur­vivor advo­cates aren’t just stats, we are the fam­i­lies behind the num­bers. Please don’t dri­ve distracted.

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Categories: Health & Wellness

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