GUEST VIEW: One woman’s crusade to stop distracted driving

The following editorial was published in the May 9 edition of the South Bend Tribune, Ind.:

Like every mother on the planet, Diveeta Thompson second-guesses her child-rearing actions.

What makes her extraordinary is that she’s traveling the country to tell the story of her son’s fatal car accident with the hope of making a difference on the issue of distracted driving.

The Fort Wayne woman founded Stop Texting AND Distracted Driving after her 18-year-old son, Rodney, was killed in 2008 five minutes from home, when he lost control of his car on homecoming weekend while driving and texting.

Now his mother speaks about the experience at high schools, colleges and other places, asking audience members to take a pledge to refrain from distracted behavior behind the wheel.

Texting while driving is illegal both in Indiana and Michigan. The tragic consequences are well publicized.

Still, the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that in 2009 more than 15 people are killed and 1,200 injured each day in the United States in crashes reportedly involving a distracted driver.

During a stop at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind., on April 25, Thompson talked about how she had regularly used her cell phone while driving to answer calls from work. She is haunted by what role that may have played in her son’s decision-making.

Thompson says that her happy and bright teen will not have died in vain if her testimony about his death positively changes the behavior of those who listen.

Let’s hope her message connects not only with young drivers, but with parents who set their example.


Posted by Tribune News Services

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