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Directions in Highway Safety Cover - Summer 2011 Download Newsletter pdf
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Summer 2011 | Vol. 13 | No. 2

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From Our Perspective: A Change of Heart

By: Rob Reynolds, Board Member

Rob Reynolds, Board Member, FocusDriven

Most of us believe we are good, safe drivers and we advocate safety always – it is our business to do so. But whenever I speak to people who are concerned with safety, the most common question I hear is “What else can I do to reduce crashes?” There is a simple way to reduce needless deaths on our roadways, and it starts with a change of heart.

In my life and in my career, I have gone through many levels of safety training and implementation, and I know how it feels to have the bar raised higher each year and to be asked to reduce crashes more or eliminate them all together. But it wasn’t until 2007, when my own daughter was killed by a distracted driver, that I really embraced the need for a change in heart – not just in policies or programs, but the need for a change in the “why” behind my choices and what it means to be an advocate.

Someone who has safety at heart would, for example, never question whether or not to have a second drink at dinner. Instead, he or she would never have more than one drink or would just decide to not drink at all. Someone who has safety at heart would also never allow even one call or text to entice their hands, eyes or mind from the task of driving – ever. He or she would never steer with one hand while sneaking a drink of soda or coffee or fumble with a map or GPS while driving. This person would always pull over when they need to address something and always go the speed limit or below, even if that might delay arrival time. Why? Because they know that it is that one unguarded moment, that one fateful decision, that one choice that causes destruction and sorrow for thousands of people every year.

Someone said, “Integrity is what you do when no one is looking,” and I agree. I began wearing a safety belt 100 percent of the time when my wife was pregnant with Cady, my daughter, knowing that it was purely a change of heart. Likewise I have changed my phone message to say that “I might be driving, so I’ll call you when I have stopped,” and I ask friends to do the same. I approach parents in my school parking lot who pull in while talking on their phones and tell them that their crash risks increases four times when they do this, so out of respect for my children and others, do not do it around school or ever, if you can.

FocusDriven logoThis is part of my role with FocusDriven, a group of victim advocates who speak not only to the science behind cell phone-distracted driving, but also to the heart. We are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, siblings, spouses and friends to those who have died or been injured because people chose to direct their attention to their cell phones, and not to the roadways, while driving. We see firsthand how dangerous this behavior is, and we work to stop it. Next time you allow yourself to talk on your phone in traffic, check your email at a stoplight or text message behind the wheel, think about who you love and who loves you. Think about the consequences of your actions and whether you want to be responsible for causing others pain. Think about thousands of other drivers more concerned with their cell phones than their safety, and say to yourself, “If I don’t have a change of heart, will anyone else?”

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