We're honored to have this guest blog post from Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. This week DOT debuted Faces of Distracted Driving, a web video series that tells the stories behind the statistics.
Believe it or not, I wasn't always so outspoken about the dangers of distracted driving. Like a lot of folks, I just didn't give a lot of thought to it.
But that all changed as I met people from coast to coast who told me about the loved ones they lost in senseless crashes caused by texting and cell phone use behind the wheel. And it was their stories — of dreams shattered and lives cut short — that turned the fight to end distracted driving into my personal crusade.
These people have had a profound effect on me. And I think their stories will have a profound effect on you.
I'm proud to announce "Faces of Distracted Driving," a new online video series featuring people from across the country who have been injured or lost loved ones to distracted driving. We're launching this today with three videos, and we'll add a new one every few weeks.
We also invite others who would like to share their stories to post their own videos on YouTube and email a link to faces [at] distraction [dot] gov.
Just last year, nearly 5,500 people were killed and 500,000 more were injured in distracted driving-related crashes. But, these aren't statistics. They're children and parents, neighbors and friends.
There's 13-year-old Margay Schee, who boarded her school bus and never made it back home.
There's 58-year-old Julie Davis, who never got to meet her 14th grandchild.
And there's 16-year-old Ashley Johnson, whose dream of becoming a psychiatrist will never come true.
From left to right, Margay Schee, Ashley Johnson, and Julie Davis
These lives, and too many others like them, were cut short — not because of malice, but because of carelessness. And the families they left behind understand the tragic consequences of distracted driving better than anyone. They will all tell you the same thing: no text or phone call is worth the risk.
So, I hope you'll watch these videos. I hope you'll share them with the people you love. And I hope you'll think of these faces — of Margay, and Ashley, and Julie — when you get into your car and put your cell phone in the glove compartment.
(This is cross-posted from the Department of Transportation's Fastlane Blog.)