Alright, Dear Reader, get ready for a rant and a lecture. I can just hear the sound of readers clicking off this page right now! I know I don’t usually post on a Sunday afternoon, but I could not let this pass. My anger began yesterday during a bus trip sponsored by my hubby’s office.
Bill works for an architect. His firm hired a coach bus to take employees on a tour of a retirement village they worked on near Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, on Philadelphia’s Main Line. They generously opened up the trip to include spouses and, after the tour was over, took us all into Philadelphia for the day. Dinner at the Independence Beer Garden near the Independence Mall, where the Liberty Bell is located, was on the office’s tab. Nothing to be angry about so far.
The reason for my anger occurred while we were on the bus traveling into downtown Philly. We were on the Schuylkill Expressway (called the Sure-kill by locals). The Schuylkill consistently ranks as one of the most congested and dangerous highways in the nation. Traffic, as is typical on the Schuylkill, alternated between speeding along at 55 miles per hour and crawling, often with little or no warning. The side of the highway is littered with car parts left over from the numerous accidents that occur there.
As the bus driver navigated the expressway, I was staring idly out the bus window. I happened to look down, into a car passing the bus. The driver was, incredibly, scrolling on her cell phone. Then another car passed us whose driver was looking at his cell phone. Then another. My temperature went up each time a distracted driver passed us until my blood was boiling and steam was coming out of my ears!
Fully one-third of drivers in all the cars who passed us as we traveled this very treacherous highway were in the act of using their cell phones or tablets. One third!!! That is nothing short of ridiculous! I was fuming to my poor hubby almost the entire drive.
As a runner, there have been several times when a distracted driver has veered towards me, running me off the road. I once saw a young woman driver come within inches of a running friend while talking on her cell phone. He angrily yelled, “Hang up and drive!!!”
Let me tell you the story of Jacy Good, one of my former students. I had the privilege of teaching Jacy and her brother Jared when they were in high school. Jacy and Jared were bright, beautiful, funny, very kind, and they definitely marched to the beat of their own drummers. They were popular kids, despite their independent natures, probably because they were just so amiable and warmhearted.
Jacy won the science fair, of which I was the director, and was a member of the Quiz Bowl team I coached, so I got to know her well. I predicted early on in our relationship that Jacy would go far in life. I had no idea how far.
She went to a college about 90 minutes away from home and graduated with honors in four years. She planned to begin a job as a team leader for Habitat for Humanity after graduation. On the day she graduated from college, as she was driving home with her parents, a driver talking on his cell phone caused a terrible accident. Neither of Jacy’s parents survived. Jacy and Jared were orphans in an instant.
Jacy, barely clinging to life, underwent over eight hours of surgery and was given just a 10% chance of surviving the night. Miraculously, Jacy lived. She underwent months of hospitalization and rehabilitation, and her injuries healed, although she still does not have full use of her left arm or leg and she has a slightly crooked smile (the accident happened in 2008).
Her college boyfriend, who faithfully spent countless hours by Jacy’s side during her ordeal, eventually became her husband and together Jacy and her husband Steve now lead an organization dedicated to warning the public about the dangers of distracted driving, and advocating for cell-phone free roads. The organization is called, appropriately “Hang Up and Drive“. You can read the full version of Jacy’s story here. Warning: it will bring a lump to your throat and a tear to your eye.
Jacy and Steve now travel the country telling their story and encouraging people (often students) to put away the cell phones while driving. They also inform our legislators about the dangers of distracted driving and advocate for stricter laws in order to protect the public from distracted drivers. Jacy was even featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show (and other national programs)!
Below is the powerful video Jacy made with the teenage cast of You Tube’s Summer Break. It is a short video – less than four minutes – that is well worth watching. I dare you to watch it without choking up. This is a link to Jacy’s Facebook page. You can give her a “like” and “follow” to see what she and Steve are up to and share your support.
By writing this post, I am attempting to follow Jacy’s inspiring example and turn my fury into something good. If I can get just one person to think twice about using their cell phone while driving, I have been successful. It’s the least I can do for Jacy.
I am linking up with Holly from HoHo Runs and Wendy from Taking the Long Way Home for their Weekly Wrap, Clean East Fast Feets for her Week in Review, Shank You Very Much for Global Blogging ,Random-osity for The Good, The Random, The Fun, and blovedboston for Weekending.