Three weeks ago, a college student driving her car in upstate New York rolled her vehicle and died. What was she doing? Sending a text message.
Imagine her parents, her friends--imagine their loss. The cost of distracted driving is devastating.
Well, our efforts to promote safer roadways and end this deadly epidemic have gained a powerful new voice, Arizona high school sophomore Bethany Brown. Bethany's anti-distraction public service video, "There are no RE-DO's in real life," was released today by the National Road Safety Foundation (NRSF).
You may recall that, in February, Bethany won the Drive to Life PSA contest sponsored by the National Organizations for Youth Safety and the NRSF. She saw an ad for the contest, did some research into the dangers of texting behind the wheel and wrote her "Re-do" script.
"After I saw the ad," Bethany recalls, "I started noticing distracted driving a lot more. I saw my friends doing it. I saw drivers in other cars doing it. They're texting or talking on their cells, and they're, you know, swerving all over. And they think they're being perfectly safe!"
"So then I began to look into it," she says, " and I couldn't believe how many teen deaths are related to texting or being on a cell and driving. It was really eye-opening."
So Bethany learned what I've been saying all along: You can't text or talk on your cell and drive safely. You can't do it.
Her prize for the winning script was a trip to New York to work with a professional director to produce her winning entry. And today, I was on hand to help unveil the fruit of that trip, which you can view above or at www.nrsf.org.
When the Allstate Foundation and NOYS and NRSF team up to empower young people to spread the message about safe driving in their own words, we all benefit. As Sandy Spavone of NOYS pointed out today, "For them, talking to each other in a way that we would discount, like 'Dude, just drive,' is very effective."
Look, I'll take the help spreading this message in any language we can get it. Whether it's in dude-speak or in the smart, dialogue-free PSA Bethany created, we need all available voices to make it clear: Texting or talking on a cell phone and driving don't mix.
And if you want to learn more about this so you can become a more effective voice, please visit www.distraction.gov our information clearinghouse.
Finally, I want you to know it's not Bethany's first prize-winning video; she's been knocking them out of the park for years, and she's only 16. But this time, she says, "I really liked how these two goals came together--film-making and doing something that benefits others--I see now how they can be combined."
Thank you, Bethany, for lending your creative talent to this important fight; you've dreamed up a very effective video, and I know you'll go far.
And thank you, Allstate, NOYS, and NRSF, for making her production possible.