I'm pleased to report the DOT has two new allies in its fight to end distracted driving.
Yesterday, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Orthopaedic Trauma Association teamed up with boxing legend Smokin' Joe Frazier to launch "Decide to Drive." This national initiative includes a multimedia campaign, interactive website (www.decidetodrive.org), a school curriculum, and materials to help surgeons talk to their patients about the risks of distracted driving.
Orthopaedists are the doctors who have to put victims' bones and limbs back together after a crash, and very few people are more familiar with the tragedy distracted driving causes than these surgeons.
AAOS released results of a survey indicating that 94 percent of adult drivers in America believe distracted driving is a problem in the U.S. Yet, 20 percent of those drivers thought their own driving skills were good enough to text or talk on the phone safely, despite the evidence against such claims. And none of the 1,500 respondents--not one--reported their own driving as unsafe.
That is a large--and dangerous--disconnect that calls for greater public awareness campaigns like "Decide To Drive."
In January, Nina heard about the family of 17-year-old Alex Brown while watching ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Alex was killed in 2009 when she crashed her truck on a rural road while she was texting behind the wheel.
Nina felt a bond with Alex's 12-year-old sister, Katrina, who was left abruptly without her big sister. She began spreading the word and collecting pledges from drivers to not text and drive. Targeting teen drivers, she has set up a table at high school basketball games and swim meets, Prom Fest at a local mall, and a nearby auto dealership.
Nina's goal is wonderfully simple, and she is savvy way beyond her eight years. "I want to help save lives," she says. "I'm telling people to read my pledge and make the commitment--not just sign it because I'm asking them to. Sign it because you mean it, not because I'm cute!"
America's orthopaedic surgeons and Connecticut's Nina Pezzello join a long list of people and organizations, including Consumer Reports, AARP, Jordin Sparks and Justin Bieber, who are doing some impressively heavy lifting to help end distracted driving.
And we can't thank them enough for their support.