Occasionally on Fastlane, I like to highlight grassroots safety efforts around the country to congratulate the people making a difference in their communities. I have been particularly amazed by the groundswell of efforts by ordinary citizens of all ages and walks of life who have joined our fight to stop distracted driving.
From Texas to Wisconsin and Idaho to Florida, they are doing incredible work to keep their fellow Americans safe on our roadways.
In Texas, renowned cartoonist Clyde Peterson's simple campaign to get drivers to stop texting in Houston school zones has grown into a full-fledged effort to ban texting throughout the state.
"My gosh," says Clyde, "I just wanted to put up a few signs near our local elementary school. Then I had to try and push the Houston City Council. I didn't think it would lead to contacting state legislators and organizing meetings with the community."
"But, at least I'm not alone," he says. "There's Kelsey Foster, a West Texas teen who nearly got herself killed while texting and driving. She's promised to park her damaged car at her school as a reminder to other students. And we've got Alex Brown's family and their work to educate students around the state."
He's referring, of course, to Jeanne and Johnny Mac Brown, who were recently featured on national television for their work to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. The Browns, with daughter Katrina, are also the subject of our latest "Faces of Distracted Driving" video.
In Wisconsin Rapids, two junior high school students, Hannah Kiiskila and Lizzie Tapia, are showing our "Faces of Distracted Driving" video featuring fellow Wisconsinite Laurie Hevier to try to get the City Council to ban cell phone use behind the wheel. Laurie's mother, Julie Davis, was killed in Wisconsin Rapids by a distracted driver.
Wisconsin already bans texting while driving, but Hannah and Lizzie know from watching our video that texting is not the only dangerous device distraction on Wisconsin roadways. Lizzie believes a cell phone ban would be her generation's equivalent to the seat belt law. Hannah points out to everyone she talks to that, "Its just not worth somebody's life."
Her message is simple: "The cell phone is glued to your hand; just put it down."
Kristin, like many other safety advocates, is frustrated. “I am so discouraged, all those other states have done it," she says. "How many more people have to die? ”
But to Kristin and Clyde and Hannah and Lizzie, I thank you for stepping up and helping to save lives on our roadways. I hope others will follow your example and join us in this fight.