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.

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:

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.