Teaming Up Against Distracted Driving
by Susan Neuhalfen
Months ago, a small group of business owners came together to discuss a way to unite our community by supporting local causes. After successfully sponsoring the Lake Cities Backs the Blue initiative in September, they are back with another great cause.
With the cooperation of our local school administrators, Mark Tucker, Allstate Insurance agent, Kevin Pyle of Pro Care Collision and Scott Fly, General Manager of Toyota of Denton have joined forces again to put distracted driving on the forefront in the Lake Cities area. After several months of planning this special program, it is finally scheduled to reach our local high schools to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.
While all three of these businesses do many things “under the radar” to benefit the Lake Cities Community, this is one initiative that they feel needs to be front and center for all residents.
Distracted driving has become a major public safety issue in North Texas as well as across the country. That is why law enforcement and community leaders across the Lake Cities are reminding drivers that anything that takes your attention away from driving is a distraction.
“We already have so much traffic and construction in the area you really have to be devoted to paying attention,” said Corinth Police Lt. Jimmie Gregg. “Eating, putting on makeup, texting and even adjusting the radio—anything that takes your mind off driving is a distraction.”
Kevin Pyle, owner of Pro Care Collision said that cell phones are a major cause of what they are seeing in their shops right now.
“People just aren’t paying attention,” said Pyle. “We have a lot of fender benders, typically younger drivers, looking at their phones instead of the car in front of them.”
Toyota of Denton GM Scott Fly has witnessed this first hand.
“I saw a young teenage girl run off the road – a one car accident – on Teasley about a year ago and we went down to help her,” said Fly. “When her friends arrived, the reality of seeing their friend knocked unconscious was sobering. I’m thankful she was okay. The outcome could have been much worse.”
Mark Tucker was chosen to represent Allstate at WE.org day back in August. He presented a check to a family profoundly changed by a distracted driver and it has since become his passion.
“I met the Berry family and was so moved by their story,” said Tucker. “My wife and I are helping them start their nonprofit and spread the word about their OLIE campaign.”
On April 18th, Lake Dallas High School and Guyer High School will host the Distracted Driving programs for their upperclass students. The students will learn important facts and dangers related to distracted driving.
LDHS students have worked hard in preparing a “Shattered Dreams” simulation, a staged accident warning students of the dangers of texting as well as drinking and driving. Their upperclass students will witness this accident reenactment and then hear the Berry family’s story. Students will get the chance to meet members of the Berry family as they’re invited to take the pledge against distracted driving and receive a OLIE bracelet to wear.
“Yes the students need to hear this message, but not just for their driving,” said Pyle. “They need to remind their parents when they’re driving to stop the distractions, too and set the example.”
In addition, Pyle, Tucker and Fly all agree that the most important thing to do is to set the example. When distractions come up, don’t take your ears, eyes or mind off the road.
“That text isn’t worth it,” said Fly.
About the Berry Family:
The Berry family was returning from a vacation when a distracted driver hit them head on, killing the parents and leaving two of the three children paralyzed from the waist down. They were taken in by their aunt, uncle and cousins who have started the OLIE campaign to combat distracted driving.
Mark Tucker and his wife accompanied the Berry family to the capitol in Austin to talk to legislators about House Bill 62 and Senate Bill 31. These bills are both coming up for a vote in the next session and would make using a handheld wireless device while operating a motor vehicle a misdemeanor for first time offenses and, a criminal offense for some repeat offenders.
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