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Life After Death

Distracted Driving Awareness

Life after Death - Distracted Driving Awareness

This story should be shared with every fleet driver, so that they never drive distracted.

I will never forget the moment my phone rang with an unfamiliar number on August 21st, 2014 at 8:49pm. As I watched it ring in my hand, the pit in my stomach started to grow.

Nearly 45 minutes earlier, my husband Patrick, had left work on his bicycle and still wasn’t home, even though it was only a 10-minute ride… I JUST KNEW.

I ran over to my best friend’s house screaming. The entire ride to the hospital I cried over and over, “Amy, I can’t live without him.”

Patrick was the foundation of his family and our business, iLendingDirect. For over 9 years, we had the pleasure of working side by side all day; building our family, our business and securing our future. For this time, I will forever be grateful.

Our marriage thrived on being partners, in and out of the office. We were so madly in love with each other and our two young children. We were living a fairytale, I had to pinch myself to make sure it was all real. This all changed when a distracted driver pulled into Patrick’s path, forever changing our lives.

By sharing the details of Patrick’s accident, my hope is to bring awareness to distracted driving, and the road to recovery for victims and their families.

After the impact, Patrick was pinned underneath a trailer being pulled by the driver. The weight of the trailer was not allowing him to breath, stopping his heart. Witnesses at the scene tried to help, but to no avail. When the paramedics arrived, they were able to start his heart back up, allowing him a fight chance.

We spent the next 5 days in ICU God to bring us a miracle, but what we got was a confirmation of our worst fears. The neurologist said that due to the lack of oxygen to his brain, there was no activity and his death was eminent.

Saying goodbye to the love of my life was surreal, heart wrenching and so “final”, something I was never prepared for. I was supposed to die first, a little old lady in his arms. The questioning everything started to consume me, “What if he took one more call before coming?”, “What if he answered one more email?” And more importantly, “How could the driver not see him?!”

In the United States in 2014, more than 800 cyclists were killed and more than 49,000 were injured. Please think of that the next time you text and drive or simply don’t pay attention to those around you.

Distracted driving is not limited to the distractions caused by cell phones. Distracted driving can include any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. This includes eating, reading, adjusting a GPS, talking to passengers, and mobile phone use, the list goes on.

Mobile phone use is also not limited to handheld devices either. Both handheld and hands-free devices are dangerous distractions to drivers. Operating a phone or other device increases your risk of crashing by 300%. Plus, there are dangers all around when operating a vehicle. This includes other cars on the road, construction, cyclists, pedestrians, changes in weather, traffic, and more.

According to Virginia Tech Transportation Institute sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for approximately 4.6 seconds. If a vehicle is traveling at 55 mph that’s the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. (Tweet this stat!)

Laws and Liability around Distracted Driving

Understanding the laws around distracted driving as well as your company’s liability is the next step in ensuring you have a safe fleet on the road. Businesses whose employees are distracted drivers face massive liability. To learn more about the laws and liability around distracted driving, download our free ebook with 9 Real World Cases Against Distracted Driving.

According to the NHTSA on-the-job crashes cost employers over $24,500 per crash, $150,000 per injury, and $3.6 million per fatality. (Tweet this stat!)

Have a Policy in Place

You could invest in technology that blocks cell phone use or review call logs for company-issued phones to manage distracted driving risks among your employees. However, it’s better to prevent distracted driving before it happens by enforcing a culture of safety. This starts with having employees sign and understand a distracted driving policy that holds them accountable.

Creating an effective distracted driving policy for your fleet is more than simply saying employees cannot use cell phones while driving. Your policy must be clear, tailored to state laws, be written down and properly communicated to employees, and assign a specific punishment for violation.

Your policy is nothing more than a piece of paper if no one is following it. So how can you get employees to buy into this new policy?

  1. Build a culture of safety – be proactive with a policy, not reactive with punishment
  2. Educate your employees so they understand the purpose of the policy
  3. Remind employees that they are liable as well as the company
  4. Use real stories: talk about the real world consequences of distracted driving
  5. Keep your drivers involved – take feedback about the policy, its successes, and shortcomings.

Below is a link to a public safety announcement that is airing in Colorado, with the goal to distribute it across the nation in 2016. If it saves just one life, we have reached our goal.

Nancy Fitzgerald with the help of Mark Conroy

Below is a link to a news story that CBS did with me on how we are trying to save lives and stop people from distracted driving.

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