Tuesday, July 10, 2012

This Woman is an Inspiration

Jamie Nash re-tells her story of surviving an accident she was in because she was texting and driving. The actual audio of her rescue from the police officer's radio is chilling. However, her words are inspiring.

Friday, July 6, 2012

DART Bus Driver Slams into Stalled Traffic

Wake up Texas! The bus driver that slammed into stalled traffic is on PAID administrative leave while his victim is still recovering in the hospital. We are BEYOND the need for legislation to hold drivers accountable whose distraction driving leads to injury and death!


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fourth of July...Don't let this be your last celebration...

When I first graduated from UNT, I worked at my hometown newspaper as an intern for the summer. I was thrilled to be writing everyday about anything and everything. However, I dreaded the weekends because, as the lowest man on the totem pole, I had the police beat. That was the summer I really learned the power of prayer. I would hit the ground each Friday praying and praying that nothing bad would happen on my watch because I really didn't know how I would handle it, much less report on it. For the most part, it was a very quiet summer.

As I have aged, my scope has widened. Now with each holiday that comes, I pray and pray and pray that the news will not have a tragedy to report each holiday weekend. Fourth of July is a big one for me. It seems to never fail that a life is tragically lost on Lake Lewisville, yet people continue to flock to the water as if a siren calls them to it.

I was thinking this morning, that I have spent the better part of a couple of decades praying for tragedies to take a holiday like the rest of us...like there is some gang of trouble makers going out to wreck havoc for their you-know-whats and giggles.

We are the havoc! Our choices are no one's but our own. If you choose to drink and drive, you choose to take your own life and/or the lives of others. If you choose to let your cellular device distract you from driving your automobile safely, you choose to take your own life and/or the lives of others. Every time you choose to make an unwise decision, you choose to risk this being your last celebration. Sometimes, you are making a choice for someone else.

Because he chose to let distractions take his attention from the road, a 51-year-old tractor trailer driver from Oklahoma stole our beloved Gayla from us. Our hearts will always be broken because this is a tragedy that could have been prevented. Accident or not, that man chose to be distracted. He will forever have to live with his choice and so will we.

Make wise choices everyday. Live to celebrate all life has to give. Be well and be safe, friends. Happy 4th of July.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cool Mom Tech--Curb Your Distracted Driving

Ideally, we should make a commitment to a zero-distraction zone in our automobiles. However, just like yesterday when my co-worker was calling and texting me over and over, there are times where we have to let people know we are driving and cannot communicate with them at that moment. I follow a Blog called Cool Mom Tech who sends me a tech savvy e-mail each morning. This morning, they shared the following fun and helpful fact about iPhones:

"Text and Email: Go to Settings > General > Keyboard and create shortcuts for yourself so you'll never have to type that same phrase over and over again. Just type the phrase and then enter the shortcut. The next time you type the shortcut, the previously-entered phrase will be typed out for you."

I tried it out attaching the following Text to the short cut "qw" (first two letters on the keyboard; easily accessed from a red light stop): "I'm driving. I'll call you when I'm stopped. This is a short cut that I set up in the settings so I wouldn't have to text and drive. DRIVE DISTRACTION FREE!"

Monday, June 25, 2012

Texas Speed Limit Increase...Dieing to Get There!

"Uh...Jaimee, why is everyone passing us like we are sitting still?" questioned my 15-year-old from the passenger side of my car. "I mean, I know you drive slow (stink eye given), I mean the speed limit, but this is ridiculous!"

I looked around and was flabbergasted...Holy! Moly! I was stunned to see the speed limit on Interstate 30 between Greenville and Texarkana had increased to 75 m.p.h. The shock continued that the night time speed limit sign of 65 m.p.h. was gone as well. I was scared stiff watching Tractor Trailers speeding by me at sometimes more than 75 m.p.h.

Hubby Dearest's response to my concern was laughter. It really had been a long time since I adventured out on my own. Since my sister's death in March 2011, the panic attacks and uneasiness behind the wheel have kept me to only making treks to and from work with an occasional visit with near-by friends. This would be the first time for me to be "on-my-own" in more than a year. I was forcing myself to start living again, which is ironic because it seemed the likelihood of being killed in a car accident had just increased. It made me want to dart back into my hole and hide some more.

According to a story from August 2011, which I found on the Huntsville Item, "In Texas, speed limits are set by a method known as the 85th percentile, which considers the speed the majority of drivers are traveling."

So for all of you, like me, whose mothers used to say, "If all of your friends jumped off a cliff, would you join them?" I guess the answer is "YES" if you live in Texas because, apparently, out of 100 drivers, 85 or more of them always drive more than 70 m.p.h. on Texas highways.

TxDOT Traffic Operations Division Director Carol Rawson said, on NewsTalk 1290 back in January, "Posting new speed limits on 1,500 miles of interstate highway is a major milestone in implementing the new law. Texas’ economic strength depends on the efficient and safe movement of people and goods. These new speed limits increase highway efficiency while maintaining the safety of the transportation system.” Ummm...economic strength...safety??? You can't get money out of dead people, Texas!
With a little more research today (Thank You, Star-Telegram), I also found out "... Texas is famous (safety advocates might say infamous) for its 80-mph limit on 521 miles of I-10 and I-20 in far West Texas." Are you kidding!!!!!! No way, thank you very much!

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/01/26/3691627/many-texas-highways-will-soon.html#storylink=cpy

The conspiracy theorist that I keep hidden in my bonnet most of the time says this is the petroleum industry's way of selling more gas. I was averaging 30.3 m.p.g. in my Altima at the time I spotted the speed limit change. I tried out the new speed limit for about an hour of white knuckle anxiety and the mileage dropped to 28.6 m.p.g. Ha! I slowed back down to 70 and used financial excuses to put off my daughter's huffing complaints.

All joking aside, Texas is leading the country in distracted driving deaths and injuries. And, yes, Darling Daughter counted and pointed out which speeding bullets were zooming past us where the driver was distracted by a cellular device (not counting wrangling kiddos, dashboard dining or playing with your controls). Out of 100 cars...65. Twenty more percent and maybe we will pass a law okaying distracted driving! I think I will investigate telecommuting soon!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

DD Advocate Smith Writes Back

Remember back in May when I wrote to Jennifer Smith, distracted driving advocate and my personal hero? The realistic side of my brain said people are too busy to read and respond to every piece of mail they receive. That left brain says, "It's good therapy for you to keep trying to reach everyone though." Well guess what, Lefty! Jennifer wrote me back! She also agreed to be a guest blogger for this site soon. Here's some of her response to my outreach...

Jennifer Smith at her mother's
crash site (photo source)

Hello Jaimee,

...I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your sister. I, all too well, understand the unexpected loss of a loved one so senselessly. I would be more than happy to write a guest blog for you. As you know, this type of work is what keeps me going and talking about the loss and fighting to make a change is my therapy. I have been fortunate enough to have met some of the most amazing families in this journey and the losses we have suffered are the common bond we all wish we did not have. I am sorry you could not make it to the summit but very soon we will have the videos available form the event and you can watch the whole thing. The panels provided a lot of education and information, and they are meant to be shared with anyone and every one to educate them and bring about a change in behaviors so others do not have to suffer our same losses.

We have so many families in Texas that have joined together to comfort each other and to ensure the much needed changes occur in laws and behaviors. From the summit we are putting together an event to be held at the Capitol in Austin sometime in January with Representative Craddick and Senator Zaffarini's offices as they will be re-introducing more legislation during the next session.  We want to get all of the families there and speak to the legislators about our losses and why the state must do something to stop these tragedies from occurring.  I will make sure and let you know when we have more details on the event, and I would be more than happy to connect you with some of the other families in the state so you can work with them as well.

Please feel free to contact me anytime for anything.  I am traveling a lot but I will always find time to connect. I consider people like you my new family and together we can help each other get through the most horrific experiences in our lives.  Please offer the rest of your family my condolences and keep up your great work...

Friday, May 18, 2012

I pledge not to text and drive because...

Check out the video on Parkview Hospital's Don't Text and Drive Page...then tell us why you pledge to not text and drive. Who/what do you love more than texting and driving?

I pledge not to text and drive because I love...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Where Do We Draw the Line?

It never fails that when someone is wronged in some way, they want justice. We all (even if only secretly) want those who hurt us to be punished. If you hurt or kill someone because you are driving under the influence, you receive jail time. In Texas, it's called Intoxication Assault or Intoxication Manslaughter and is punishable with a fine not more than $10,000, 2 to 20 years in prison, and from 160 to 800 hours of community service.

We've heard about it since we were in grade school, DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE! It is a willful act to drink alcohol or use drugs and then operate your vehicle. It is also a willful act to operate your cellular device (texting/calling/updating) while also operating your vehicle. Studies show that distracted driving is comparable to drinking and driving with regard to accidents. So why are there no legal consequences for those drivers who hurt or kill someone while they are driving distracted? Should there be? How do you draw the line? Where do you draw the line?

Read these stories and weigh in:


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Do Something Now about Distracted Driving...Not Later When You've Lost So Much!

Everyday, I look for more information on distracted driving. It really doesn't take more than a simple Google search of the news to find a plethora of intel. I was about to post this story about a widow in Roanoke honoring her husband by speaking out against distracted driving with the comment, "Do something about distracted driving before you are left doing it in honor of someone you lost." Then it dawned on me that this was the post I wanted to write today.

It shames me to say that I have not always driven distraction free. I have broken every rule that I now live by plus some. In 2009, I actually rear-ended an SUV because I was emotionally compromised by an incident at work and did not stop in time. Thankfully, no one was hurt (except my little plastic car). You would think that this near miss would have shook me awake. However, it was the loss of my beautiful sister Gayla that finally put me into gear. No one listens to you until you make a mistake has been a truism that I have often considered. I'll revise it to say no one listens until you're gone.

Be aware and share what you know with the ones you love. Don't wait until you are left with a broken heart before you remove distractions from your driving. Don't tell yourself the lie that you are different, you can handle it, you can do it better, it won't happen to you. You are 23 times more likely to be in a wreck when you are distracted by texting on your cellar equipment. Drivers who use hand-held devices are 4 times more likely to get into crashes. When you're sending or receiving a text, you take your eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, that is the same as driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Distracted Driving Awareness is my Purpose

I don't tend to throw out the biblical references too often...my faith is very personal, and I am very private about it. However, yesterday I felt like God was revealing my purpose and I want to share. 

Isaiah 66:9 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV) 9 "In the same way, I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born.” The LORD says this: “I promise that if I cause you the pain of birth, I will not stop you from having your new nation.” Your God said this.

I have spent the last year of my life struggling to understand God's purpose and reasoning for the loss of my sister. I have read that it's actually part of the mourning process to have a crisis of faith sometimes. Yesterday, I had had a particularly hard day at work and was ready to call it a day early just to go hide my frustration and pain. However, I hesitated, arguing with myself about not giving in to the ill feelings and toughing it out. 

While I hesitated, our office's mail carrier walked in to deliver our mail and try to cool off a bit. She and I often exchange the pleasantries and polite conversation of acquaintanceship. However, we've never really delved any deeper than passing humor. Yesterday, she was resting in the cool while I retrieved her a glass of ice water (my mama and daddy were both mail carriers so I know the Texas heat can take its toll quite easily). I simply asked, "How has your day been going?" Her response was the polite "Okay."

Then our conversation turned as she began to ask about my family, my mother and father being postal carriers, them being retired and trying to enjoy their leisure, my sister's death, and then distracted driving. I hadn't really considered myself an expert in this arena until I started spouting the research and talking about the epidemic that is distracted driving. At the climax of our exchange, our mail carrier was visibly affected by the information. I could see her pondering and thinking about the information. When she and I were ready to part ways, she walked away from our conversation with a new insight. I hope that insight helps her to make wise choices when driving and that she too passes on the information to those who will listen. 

I felt better and the bad day lightened with this exchange. Then later in the day, I stumbled across Isaiah 66:9. I felt like God was reminding me of His promise...He will not bring pain without also allowing something new to be born. From the pain of losing my sister was born this challenge of educating everyone with whom I come into contact about distracted driving. 

The Facts I Shared:

  • From Distracted Driving Safety Alliance--Even with a blue tooth or hands free device, we can be distracted from our driving by inattentive blindness.
  • From this blog--emotional driving and inattention blindness 
  • From Distraction.gov--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. These types of distractions include:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Distracted Driving is ALL Y'ALL'S Responsibility

Back in 2000, I lived for a brief moment in Hoboken, New Jersey. Being from East Texas, it was a fun game for my cohorts to get me to say things..."Say something!" was always the first command at my arrival to functions. I don't think I have an accent but everyone has their own opinion. My favorite funny question was, "What's the plural of 'y'all'?" I responded, "I don't know, 'ALL Y'ALL'?"


Because I am constantly reading up on the latest news and trends, I have come across several online articles throwing responsibility back and forth...auto industry, cellular industry, driver, passenger, legislature, enforcement....blah, blah, flippin' blah!

My mama always told me that the only person I could control was ME. I have a caveat to that...The only person I can control is me, but I can influence anyone willing to listen.

Each and every driver is responsible for their behaviors while driving. If you are a passenger, then you have a choice as to whether you will be a distraction. Auto and cellular industries, you stand to make a fortune if you can help everyone travel more safely and without distraction (think of it as a challenge to figure out the most complicated puzzle). Legislature and enforcement, are you too afraid to put regulations out that ban? Then at least create something that provides for punishment in the event of death, injury and/or destruction of property.

Honestly, all y'all...this is NOT rocket science or brain surgery! Drive when you're behind the wheel. Don't wreck your or someone else's life by being distracted from operating that machine of which you are in control.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Letter to Jennifer Smith, Advocate and a Personal Hero

I was excited last week to see more fans joining the Distracted Driving Awareness movement via our FaceBook page. One of the newest fans has also, to quote her web site, "been one of the leading advocates against distracted driving since her mother was killed by a driver talking on a cell phone on Sept. 3, 2008. She was the one of the founding board members and past President of FocusDriven and now continues to work to prevent this dangerous epidemic from happening to others by sharing her story and the science and latest research behind the dangers of driving while distracted. Jennifer also consults with families who have lost loved ones or been injured by a distracted driver so they can start their own grassroots efforts to change the culture of our society." Here is the letter I sent to Jennifer Smith this morning:

Dear Jennifer,

Please picture in your mind that I am standing up and applauding you for all of your efforts to bring about awareness of the epidemic that is distracted driving. I also send you a heart-felt hug of comfort for the loss of your beautiful mother, my deepest condolences. Unfortunately, I was not even aware of this killer until I lost my beautiful 38-year-old sister Gayla to a distracted truck driver on March 19, 2011. Thank you for becoming a fan of my FaceBook page and for letting me know about the summit…I wish I could have been there. I would like to ask you a couple of things. Would you write a guest post on the blog that I created, TexansAgainstDistractedDriving.blogspot.com? Also, how can I partner with you to help with the distracted driving awareness movement?

Gayla was my sister, but she was also my best friend, my rock. She was the oldest child in our close-knit family of five. My parents are beyond devastated, and my brother and I feel their pain as it is like a whole section of who we are is missing. Sister was 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 more than a year since Sister was killed. Each holiday and special occasion and for that matter any given day in the last year of our lives has been heartbreak without Gayla. 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.

Gayla was killed by a distracted truck 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 but our lawyer has indicated that there might have been a cellular device involved. It could have been 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.

I look forward to hearing from you and hope that I can work with you to bring about the changes that so desperately need to happen to help prevent our tragedies from repeating themselves and destroying other families.

Jaimee Hunter

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Kasey Kahne Featured in PSA about Distracted Driving

Last year at this time, I was writing to NASCAR's Kasey Kahne to tell him that one of his biggest fans, my sister Gayla, had been killed by a distracted driver. Why would I do that? Read the post on my other blog to see. Nevertheless, as disappointed as I was a year ago, I am proud that Kasey is getting on board with the distracted driving awareness initiative.

Monday, April 30, 2012

April 30--Distracted Driving Awareness Month

On March 19, 2011, our beloved Gayla was taken from this world by a distracted driver. This video is our family's face of distracted driving. For the rest of my life, I will be an advocate for distraction-free driving.

Sister was born in 1972, the first child to Brenda and James. Gayla was the celebration of their love. She was the guinea pig baby in that they learned to parent with Gayla. My Brother JamesII and I would learn what not to do by watching her test the waters of growing up. Sister mostly taught us all what it meant to loved whole heartily.

Saturday, March 19, 2011, was a beautiful sunny day. Our family was awaiting the arrival of our newest member, William. My little family had spent the week in Hooks as part of Spring Break and William-Watch. Gayla had had to travel for work, and because she wanted to be there when William made his debut, she had decided to stay at her house in Rhome and come down once his mother was in labor.

To treat herself and to enjoy the beginning of spring, Sister was headed out that afternoon to eat at Waffle House and then get a pedicure. There were two possible paths Gayla could have taken for her mini-venture, up 114 past the Texas Motor Speedway or up 287 to Fort Worth. Because there was a classic car show at TMS that day, Gayla chose the other path to avoid traffic. The irony in that statement hurts my heart. Sister was sitting in traffic not moving more than 10 mph at a stop and go pace when she was hit from behind and her car was sent across the median to finally crash into a wire guard rail. The tractor trailer driver said he was down-shifting instead of breaking and his truck fell out of gear. He looked down to put the truck back in gear and when he looked up, he had no time to break before he rear-ended Gayla's car. It has since been uncovered that there were more distractions going on than a missed gear.

Gayla was killed instantly when her neck was broken by the impact. She did not suffer. However, the suffering was left for her family and friends.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

April 29, 2012--Distracted Driving Awareness Month

On February 23, 2010, 19-year-old Heather Lerch was killed when she lost control of her car and crashed through a guardrail on her way home from work. She was speeding and texting at the time of the crash.

To honor their daughter's memory, Dan and Wendy Lerch produced this video with the Washington State Department of Licensing and submitted it for inclusion in the U.S. Department of Transportation's "Faces of Distracted Driving" series.

For more information, please visit www.distraction.gov. To share your distracted driving story, email faces@distraction.gov.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

April 28, 2012--Distracted Driving Awareness Month

On January 3, 2008, Heather Hurd and her fiancée were scheduled to meet her parents at their wedding planner's office in Orlando, Florida. On the way there, a tractor-trailer traveling at 65 miles per hour hit their car -- and eight others -- while they were stopped at a red light. The truck driver, who was texting with his company at the time of the crash, never applied his brakes. Heather died at the scene.

In memory of their daughter, Russell and Kim Hurd have become outspoken advocates against distracted driving. They successfully lobbied for the passage of "Heather's Law" in 2009, which prohibits drivers in their home state of Maryland from texting behind the wheel.

For more information, please visit www.distraction.gov. To share your story, email faces@distraction.gov.

Friday, April 27, 2012

April 27, 2012--Distracted Driving Awareness Month

At 19 years old, Brittanie Montgomery was a member of the Hornets Honeybees dance team and studied childhood development as a sophomore at the University of Central Oklahoma. On December 21, 2006, she was killed when she lost control of her vehicle, crossed four lanes of traffic, and was struck by an oncoming car. She was talking on her cell phone with a friend at the time of the crash.

Brittanie's mother, Gina Harris, is now an advocate against distracted driving.

For more information, please visit www.distraction.gov. To share your story, email faces@distraction.gov.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

April 26, 2012--Distracted Driving Awareness Month

On April 15, 2009, 58-year-old Julie Davis set off for a hike with her best friend in Rudolph, Wisconsin. As they were walking beside the road, a 19-year-old driving at 70MPH struck Julie from behind, killing her instantly. Crash reconstruction reports showed the driver could not have been looking at the road for 8.75 seconds. She was cited for inattentive driving and fined $173.40.

Laurie Hevier, Julie's daughter, is now an advocate against distracted driving.

For more information, please visit www.distraction.gov. To share your story, upload a video to YouTube and email the link to faces@distraction.gov.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April 25, 2012--Distracted Driving Awareness Month

On May 10, 2010, 16-year-old Ashley Johnson was killed when she lost control of her vehicle, crossed the center line, and hit a pickup truck head-on. Although her father had warned her against cell phone use behind the wheel, she was texting at the time of the crash.

Amos Johnson, Ashley's father, now speaks to local teens about the dangers of distracted driving.

For more information, please visit www.distraction.gov. To share your story, upload a video to YouTube and email the link to faces@distraction.gov.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April 24, 2012--Distracted Driving Awareness Month

On January 19, 2004, Judy Teater and her 12-year-old son Joe were driving to an after school activity when a young woman behind the wheel of a Hummer and talking on her cell phone ran a red light and slammed into their vehicle. Joe died the next day from his injuries.

Judy is now an advocate against distracted driving.

For more information, please visit www.distraction.gov. To share your story, upload a video to YouTube and email the link to faces@distraction.gov.

Monday, April 23, 2012

April 23,2012--Distracted Driving Awareness Month

On May 30, 2007, 16-year-old Cady Reynolds was driving her best friend home from a movie near Omaha, NE when another teen driver--who was severely distracted behind the wheel--ran a red light and slammed into her car at 50MPH. Cady was rushed to the hospital with critical injuries and died the next day.

Emily Reynolds, Cady's 17-year-old sister, is now an advocate against distracted driving and is an active member of NOYS, the National Organizations for Youth Safety.

For more information, please visit www.distraction.gov. To share your story, upload a video to YouTube and email the link to faces@distraction.gov.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012

April 16, 2012--Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Recklessness killed this beautiful nine-year-old. My heart breaks for this Mama as much as it breaks for my own.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

April 12--Distracted Driving Awareness Month

The faces of distracted driving...Eric was 19 and on his way to great things. Now his legacy is be the example of why texting, "a willful act", while driving is unacceptable. His family not only suffers but the other teen who killed him will suffer from here on out as well.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Monday, April 9, 2012

April 9, 2012--Distracted Driving Awareness Month

It's the Zombie Apocalypse! I absolutely love these videos from the California Office of Traffic Safety! Don't be a Zombie...It's not worth it!

Glam Zombie

Sunday, April 8, 2012

April 8, 2012--Distracted Driving Awareness Month

It's the Zombie Apocalypse! I absolutely love these videos from the California Office of Traffic Safety! Don't be a Zombie...It's not worth it!

Party Zombies

Saturday, April 7, 2012

April 7, 2012--Distracted Driving Awareness Month

It's the Zombie Apocalypse! I absolutely love these videos from the California Office of Traffic Safety! Don't be a Zombie...It's not worth it!
Grubbin Zombie

Friday, April 6, 2012

April 6, 2012--Distracted Driving Awareness Month

It's the Zombie Apocalypse! I absolutely love these videos from the California Office of Traffic Safety! Don't be a Zombie...It's not worth it!

Mobile Zombie

Thursday, April 5, 2012

April 5, 2012--Distracted Driving Awareness Month

It's the Zombie Apocalypse! I absolutely love these videos from the California Office of Traffic Safety! Don't be a Zombie...It's not worth it!

Day Dreaming Zombie

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April 4, 2012--Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Using a cell phone while driving, whether it's handheld or hands-free, delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (2009, University of Utah)

Would you believe that alcohol inhibited driving laws didn't come about until the 1980's? Since automobiles originated in the early 1900's and alcohol has been around since before Jesus was a boy, that makes me a little discouraged that it could be almost 100 years before our legislature gets on board with regulating the use of cell phones while driving (and we SHOULD have flying, self-operated cars by then, right!). This is why education is so very important!

I am encouraged by individual industries creating standards with regard to distracted driving. Check out what the US Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has to say about the use of cellular phones in 18-wheelers and such.

FMCSA and PHMSA are amending the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) to restrict the use of hand-held mobile telephones by drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). This rulemaking will improve safety on the Nation's highways by reducing the prevalence of distracted driving-related crashes, fatalities, and injuries involving drivers of CMVs. The Agencies also amend their regulations to implement new driver disqualification sanctions for drivers of CMVs who fail to comply with this Federal restriction and new driver disqualification sanctions for commercial driver's license (CDL) holders who have multiple convictions for violating a State or local law or ordinance on motor vehicle traffic control that restricts the use of hand-held mobile telephones. Additionally, motor carriers are prohibited from requiring or allowing drivers of CMVs to use hand-held mobile telephones.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April 3--Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Do you have a DT? I do! Darling Daughter is my DESIGNATED TEXTER. As co-pilot, she takes care of any cell phone business while I navigate us to our destination.

Check out this article on TXDOT's campaign for Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Monday, April 2, 2012

April 2--Distracted Driving Awareness Month

I've bought a ton of green ribbon and pins to hand out for Distracted Driving Awareness Month. I am also making green awareness wrap bracelets. Make the pledge to drive distraction free.
I pledge to drive distraction-free, with the goal to permanently reduce my distracted driving habits. I will spread the word about driving distraction-free among my family and friends encouraging them to resist distracting behaviors while driving.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April 1--Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month...if you weren't aware, take a look at any of the thousands of sites touting the dangers of this epidemic that is sweeping our lives and the lives of the ones we love away with just a push of a button.

Don't ever think that it can't happen to you. I can honestly say that if my sister had not been killed by a distracted driver, then this wouldn't be but a blip on my mind, saying, "Oh yeah! I shouldn't do this but I am in such a hurry." Don't wait until you lose and lose big to change your behaviors. No text, no call, no status update is worth a life. Wear a green ribbon and remind everyone you love that driving distraction free saves lives.

Monday, March 26, 2012

No Call, No Text, No Update is worth a human life...

Tomorrow in DC there is an attentative driving forum. I wish I could be there but am thrilled to know there will be a web cast of the proceedings. I think this is something we will all want to know. Here is another testimonial of a family stricken by this epidemic of distracted driving. NO CALL, NO TEXT, NO UPDATE is worth even one life.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dashboard Dining is Distracted Driving

Luigi Fraschini wrote in his Driving Today article "Eating on the Run", "While 68 percent of Americans say they eat in their cars to save time, they also have concerns about messiness, trash or spills that come along with eating on the go. In fact, 37 percent of respondents cited messiness and spills as their primary concern while eating in the car. Happily another 33 percent cited safety."

As the guy from Invisible Children and Maria Shriver can attest, if you are going to have a cause and try to change the way people see your chosen good will, then you shouldn't screw up or get busted doing something unsavory or doing exactly what you are preaching against (him Joseph Kony and her hand-held cell phones). I have been making sure that in this endeavor to educate Texans about the distractions that we face in our vehicles these days, I don't do anything that would be distracted driving. However, I might have forgotten a big one, DASHBOARD DINING--the art of eating while driving.

Well, I am busted! And I almost paid the ultimate price for it. Doubly bad is that it's raining here in my part of the Lone Star State and traffic only gets worse when the wet stuff falls from the sky. We see it so rarely that we forget how to drive when rain visits us.

Nevertheless, this morning I was in a rush to get to work and decided to eat and drive to save time. I made it through my Sonic Ultimate Meat and Cheese Burrito just fine. It was just as I popped the yummy little mint (the soft kind that melt easily THANK GOD!) into my mouth that a fellow commuter cut me off. I braked hard to avoid a collision and narrowly saved us both from having to do a rain dance to exchange information. Down side...that not so little mint flew down my throat WHOLE and wedged itself sideways.

Although panicked, I managed to pull into a parking lot safely. It might have only been a minute but I made myself stay calm to assess the situation even though I was sure that I was going to die of suffocation before I could figure how to give myself the Heimlich maneuver using the steering wheel. Then I realized that I was still breathing.

Thank you, Baby Jesus! It went down the "right" way, but Holy-things-swallowed-whole, it hurt and no manner of continuous swallowing was making it budge. I decided a hot beverage might melt the little offender more quickly. I got to my office and made myself a hot tea. I think it has finally dissolved or moved on down to the stomach. However, this life lesson will stick with me. No more dashboard dining! No more distracted driving!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Break is Over...The Mission Continues

Thanks for understanding I needed a break. We are back and I am more determined than ever to educate everyone on the dangers of distracted driving.  Check out what I found on my daily Google for Distracted Driving News:

Forbes Magazine Article: Author Dale Buss makes some good points. "The real problem is the distractions that take over their minds while they're driving, regardless of whether they're handling all of the electronic communications 'hands-free'." As the passenger on Sunday, I proved this in that my eyes never left the road we were traveling. However, because I was thinking about my sister's death last year and having to leave my parents on the day before the anniversary of her death to return to "the real world," I didn't remember anything of our trip home. What if I had been the driver? Unfortunately, I know that I have done the zone out thing while being the driver too. Another point Buss made is that automakers are going to have a hard time staying up with the latest technology in the cars they make and making those same cars distraction free. You really cannot say, "Hey buy this car ...we support the IPad 3...be distraction free." The two just cannot continue to hold hands and play nice.

PoliceOne.com: Since enacting the ban on cell phone use in California, that state is seeing a decrease in the number of motor vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers.

Life Before Text App: Holy Crochet Batman! I love this app and will get it for the darling daughter. Parents set the speed limit on the app, say 10 mph. The phone still receives missed calls and texts but doesn't disturb the teen driver. It just displays what was missed while being distraction free. Also, if the teen driver disables the app, IT SENDS AN EMAIL TO THE PARENTS. Genius!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring Break in Texas Begins Today at 4 p.m.

Spring Break for most Texans begins today with the final school bell. Many will be driving off to their warmer destination. How many will go with their full attention on the road? My family will be remembering that one year ago a distracted driver stole our precious Gayla from us because he was distracted while driving his 18-wheeler.

I found this amazing re-enactment video today and wish everyone would watch it and see the consequences of distracted driving.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Avoid Tired and Emotional Driving

As Hubby Dearest and I prepare to teach our Darling Daughter how to drive in the next year, we are sharing the horror stories of our own learning experiences. This has brought to mind another biggie in distracted driving...emotional and tired driving. I personally LOVE the "Menace Like Me" commercial where the scruffy man says he's a teenage girl who just got a text message about a friend and the boy she likes, "And now I am emotionally compromised. Whoopsies!" BANG! Hits a car.

Within the first year of my learning to drive, I wrecked my mother's truck, my father's truck and my sister's car. Two of those were the same accident. In both situations, I was under pressure and could have been considered an emotional driver and distraction to myself. I am lucky no one was hurt. Some drivers and passengers and by-standers are not as lucky.

When our minds are focused on something other than driving, we are more prone to accidents. Make sure you are calm and attentive before getting behind the wheel each and every time.

Monday, March 5, 2012

You Are Going Blind!!!!

An Australian study from 2005 showed researchers that drivers using hands-free devices while driving are still four times more likely to be in an accident, the same chance as someone holding their cellular phone while talking and driving. "Motorists are more accident-prone and slower to react when they talk on cellular telephones - even hands-free models - because 'inattention blindness' makes the drivers less able to process visual information," University of Utah researchers found in 2003.

I figured out this weekend the reason why everyone is subject to inattention blindness. It doesn't have to be the electronics in your car. For me, it was the chatty teen sitting right next to me. It dawned on me as we were happily going to see our friends on Saturday that I hadn't really seen where we were going even though my "eyes" were on the road. My mind was preoccupied with girl child telling a story, and we straight up passed a store at which we wanted to purchase a Giant Metal Chicken for our Sosie's birthday. I was astonished that we had to back track more than two miles to make our purchase. That is more than two miles of heavy traffic that could have taken us out. I am just amazed that we weren't.

Inattention Blindness happens to EVERYONE so don't get all judgy on me (I feel bad enough as it is). Always the brainiac, I researched this to learn more about it. My favorite research comes out of Harvard, The Invisible Gorilla Test. The study asked people to watch a video where two teams wearing black and white t-shirts pass a basketball around. They were told to count the number of passes made by one of the teams. In the video someone walks through the players wearing a full gorilla suit. After watching the video, the subjects were asked if they saw anything out of the ordinary... 50% of the subjects did not report seeing the gorilla. This research showed that what is in our sight area is not seen if our mind is focused on another task.

That scares the crap out of me! I think about how many times I became bored on the long trip from DFW to East Texas to see my family and zoned out. Unless there is a needed potty break in Sulfur Springs or Mount Pleasant, you could drive on Interstate 30 and never see the crepe myrtle grower outside of Greenville or the Rainbow Ranch. There's an exit 1993 that I have always looked for because that was the year I graduated from high school. Those are just a few of the scenes on the side of the road...what about those tractor trailers that are on the road with me? What about that road rager? The gal putting on her make-up or yelling at her kids? The idiot with the dog in his lap? Distractions, distractions, distractions...they are EVERYWHERE!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Howdy, Texas...Stats on Distracted Driving from AAA

"Multi-tasking is undoubtedly a regular activity for most people but it is critical that we remind ourselves of the most important task behind the wheel – driving safely," states the Triple A web site.

Triple A did a culture poll and found that even though 94% of drivers say they think distracted driving in dangerous and that 87% would support legislation to ban texting and driving, more than a third of those polled also admitted to distracted driving activity in the past month. My Daddy practically raised all three of us on the rule of "Do as I say and not as I do!" However, it's time for the hypocrisy to end.

I cannot change the world in a day, but I can change me. Let me tell you, I am just like everyone else and Pavlov's Dog. My phone sounded a text had arrived while I was driving this morning and with that "ble-ding!" I was salivating to check it. My brain screamed ignore it but still my head snapped in the direction of where my phone was buried in my handbag. I felt the itching in my fingers as I sat at a red light when the second "ble-ding!" reminded this dog to fetch. And then it struck me, I am not a dog. I don't fetch. I am a grown woman capable of self control. Nothing is so important that it won't wait the ten minutes for me to get to my office.

Join me today in making the promise to yourself, to your loved ones and to the drivers around you, "I will make my driving environment a distraction free zone for me, for the ones I love and for the drivers around me."

Friday, February 24, 2012

Texans Lead the Way in Every Way...Or So I thought

Gayla in 2010
Maybe because it's part of being born and raised Texan, but it has always been my understanding that Texans lead the way. We are initiators, founders, leaders by our very birth. With men like Jim Bowie, Davie Crockett, Dwight Eisenhower and LBJ and women like Melinda Gates, Laura Bush and Lady Bird Johnson, Texans should be the most generous and forward-thinking people on the planet. We should see a challenge and tackle it to the ground, hog tie it, have a "Come-to-Jesus" with it and call it done. So why is it that so many of my fellow Texans laugh at me when I talk to them about making their driving space a distraction-free zone? Have we become a society of shallow, what-about-me-ers who cannot make it from point A to the corner of point B without the distraction of a phone call or text? Are we all really so important to the world turning that it cannot wait until we are parked safely out of harms way?

I have lost so much because of distracted drivers so I know the cost. As angry as I feel some days, I only have to remember that somewhere in Oklahoma, there is a 50-something year old man who has to live with the fact that he took the life of a 38-year-old woman last year. He lives with the image of my beautiful sister's lifeless form haunting his nightmares for the rest of his life. He will always know that because he couldn't wait to answer that call or return that text, our Gayla will never be see or do all the amazing that this world has to offer.

The next time you give your attention to something other than operating your vehicle safely, ask yourself if it is worth it to live in a nightmare for the rest of your life.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Welcome Texans Against Distracted Driving!

Earlier this month Gov. Perry vetoed legislation that would have made it illegal to use a cellular device while driving a vehicle saying it would basically be telling adults how to behave. I thought that is what laws did in part...set the standards by which we should live. I can disagree with our Governor all day and into next year, but his point finally gave me what I was looking for...a plan for bringing awareness to the great citizens of Texas. He is correct in that we need to educate, educate, educate! Therefore, I am dedicating my energy and time to doing just that. I am beginning with this blog where I will post information about distracted driving. Also, like us on FaceBook to keep abreast of the information I find. Be blessed, be safe, and be distraction free while operating your automobile! (I'll come up with a catchier catch phrase in the near future). 

REPOSTED: 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.
REPOSTED FROM jaimeehunter.blogspot.com

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 www.distraction.gov, 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:

REPOSTED: Planting Grass Seeds


If you haven't heard, I'm MADD AND SADD. Except in this case I am a mother and sister against distracted driving instead of drunk driving (although I am pretty firmly against that too). A distracted truck driver who probably was fiddling with his cell phone, killed my beautiful sister Gayla almost one year ago. I feel more and more anger everyday and, for months now, I have felt compelled to DO SOMETHING to change how we as a society view being distracted by cell phones in the car.

When I printed out the PLEDGE last week and tried to get my loved ones and co-workers to sign it, I was appalled that more than one person laughed in MY face and said, "That's not gonna happen. You'll never get that to go." Well, myMama always says if you want to get something done, tell me I can't do it. DING!

I have no idea what I am doing or where to even begin. Since I am a nerd-by-nature I will start with research, and who better to glean ideas from than the mothers who got in the world's face more than 30 years ago when it was almost a joke to drink and drive a car. To learn more about what I am ranting, Read this excerpt by Laurie Davies from the Fall of 2005:

Twenty-five years ago, a heartbroken mother made a pledge in her deceased daughter’s bedroom. She would do something about the outrage of drunk driving—a decision that quickly inspired a handful of grieving, determined mothers to join in the fight. Though united in cause, they had no office, no money and no clout. In fact, all they had was sorrow, pluck and a picture of a pretty, 13-year-old girl killed by a drunk driver. Yet they initiated one of the great grassroots successes in American history. They were as their name suggests: MADD. As their fledgling organization grew, they stood toe to toe with politicians who knew the stats but did not act. They took on a powerful industry that put profit over safety. They challenged a society that viewed drinking and driving as acceptable—even laughable. And they caused a visceral reaction. The getting there wasn’t easy. It was tough. It was messy. And it was fraught with obstacles. Yet MADD proved, time and time again, that it would not be bullied or derailed. In fact, MADD blazed a trail that other organizations have since followed. They made hard, cold statistics come to life. They did not just say that drunk driving killed thousands and injured millions. They held up photographs—and described every nuance of their loved ones’ lives—to prove it. As a result, a mountain of traffic safety and victims’ rights legislation has been passed. Annual alcohol-related traffic fatalities have dropped from an estimated 30,000 in 1980 to fewer than 17,000 today. And, perhaps most important, society no longer views drunk driving as acceptable. Looking back over 25 years, it’s an amazing story. A grieving mother’s determination sparked a volunteer movement that swept the nation and has saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

I may not have a plan, but I have passion, which in my world is fuel. So world, be forewarned, I have planted some grass seeds and am tending them. Watch out! The roots are going to strangle out our society's acceptance that distracted driving is just a fact of everyday life.