LINDENHURST, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Distracted driving – talking or texting behind the wheel – can be deadly, as one girl knows all too well.
Jacy Good was in a car with her parents in Pennsylvania when a young man talking on his cell phone ran a red light.
“That actually took the lives of both of my parents, left me with about a 10 percent chance of surviving, and left me with handicaps that I will live with for the rest of my life,” she told WCBS 880 reporter Sophia Hall.
Following the accident that forever changed her life, Good started the Hang Up and Drive campaign for cell phone-free roads.
“My crash was caused by someone just talking on his phone. He was looking out the windshield, he was seemingly paying attention but his brain was thinking about that conversation. He never even saw that red light in front of him,” Good told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
Good now warns drivers about distractions like talking on the phone and texting.
She delivered her message to students statewide via webcast from Lindenhurst High School on Wednesday.
“On that day, I had about half a dozen broken bones,” she said. “I challenge you to think of something on your phone, no matter how busy or how important or what you’re doing, it’s not more important than your own life. It’s not more important than someone else’s life.”
According to national highway statistics, distracted drivers are 23 times more likely to crash and 245,000 tickets were handed out last year for distracted driving, Gusoff reported.
State Police Trooper Frank Bandiero told said that in the past thousands of tickets have been given out.
“I crunched the numbers just for Long Island. There are close to 3,000 last year alone. That’s just state police,” he said.
Texting while driving is almost like being drunk while driving, according to St. Sen. Charles Fuschillo.
“If you’re texting on a cell phone, it’s the same as driving a football field blindfolded,” he said. “At any given point, 100,000 people are texting or on their cell phones. It’s a serious problem.”
Fuschillo said it’s an epidemic.
“It’s out of control is what it says and the current laws aren’t working. It’s 3 points and a fine but in some other states it’s stronger. We are going to review what other states do,” Fuschillo told Gusoff.
The kids were taught to turn their phones to silent when they drive or to change their voicemail message to let callers know they’re driving. Some students are also taking a stand against distracted driving.
“I don’t go in my friends’ cars anymore who text and drive because I think it’s really wrong,” Lindenhurst High School senior Kristen Curran told Gusoff.
The message is especially important for new drivers. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, half of drivers between 18 and 24 admit they text or email while driving.
“I’ve been dealt too much pain and that pain was 100 percent preventable,” said Good.
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