Students Hear First-Hand the Dangers and Consequences of Distract Driving
On Wednesday, December 3, Hartford CSD students grades 10-12 learned about the dangers and consequences of distracted driving. Jacy Good and Steve Johnson, who are advocates for distraction-free roads, travel to schools and other public forums to share their heart-breaking and life altering tragedy as a result of a distracted driver. To date they have delivered their “Hang Up And Drive” message approximately 1,046 times in 41 states and 3 countries.
Here is their story. In May 2008 after leaving her college graduation ceremony, Jacy and her parents were traveling home. They approached a green light on a relatively busy one-lane highway while an 18-year-old man talking on his cell phone approached the red light at the intersecting road. Unfortunately, he was paying more attention to his cell phone conversation than his driving environment and failed to notice the red light. As he entered the intersection, an oncoming tractor trailer swerved to miss the distracted driver, but hit the Good family’s car with full-force instead. The impact killed Jacy’s mother Jean, and father Jay. When the paramedics arrived Jacy wasn’t breathing and was resuscitated by an EMT who was in close proximity and heard the horrible crash. Once transported to a hospital, Jacy was given about a 10 percent chance of surviving the night. She defied the odds and slowly recovered from her numerous injuries including multiple broken bones, a lacerated liver and a traumatic brain injury. Even after multiple surgeries and physical rehabilitation Jacy is partial paralyzed with limited use of the left side of her body.
Jacy spent about four months in the hospital with her college sweetheart and now husband, Steve at side, as well as her older and only brother Jerrod. Once out of a coma, she awoke to learn that with the loss of her mother and father. Her family had been cut by half. She said she had no memory of the accident and was not aware of any details. She conducted a Google search of her name one day and was horrified to find out that the crash was caused because a driver was on his cell phone. It should be noted that when Jacy and Steve tell their story, they refer to it a crash rather than an accident. “This was no accident. This was totally preventable and a result of poor judgement,” said Steve.
In sharing this story with the Hartford students, Jacy asked them to put themselves in her shoes and change whatever dangerous driving habits they might have. She asked them to think about some of their favorite activities and how they would feel if they could not do those activities. She suggested downloading a phone app such LifeSaver, which automatically sends a reply to incoming texts that the recipient is currently driving. The husband and wife team also identified other forms of distracted driving. “Distracted driving is anything which takes the mind off the road. Our brains are not designed to multi-task, but rather multi-toggle,” stated Jacy.
The presentation was coordinated by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and Lauren Zimmerman-Meade, New York State Coordinator for SADD. The funding is provided by the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Commission.