April 15th marks the three-year anniversary of the death of Nikki Kellenyi, an 18-year-old young woman who didn’t have to die. She was a victim of distracted driving. Ironically, April is National Distracted Driving month, a time set aside for government organizations and community groups to promote safe driving awareness. Distracted driving is a growing epidemic across America and is the subject of much concern among lawmakers and community leaders. And why would that be? Because distracted driving leads to completely preventable accidents, leaving a terribly heavy toll on families and friends of the victims.
The National Safety Council has this to say about distracted driving: “Eighty percent of American drivers believe hands-free devices are safer than using a handheld phone. But that is just not the case. More than 30 studies show hands-free devices are no safer because the brain remains distracted by the conversation. When talking on a cell phone, drivers can miss seeing up to half of what’s around them, such as traffic lights, stop signs and pedestrians.” And according to Injury Facts, distracted driving at 26% is the third biggest cause of fatalities on the road, after alcohol (30.8%) and speeding (30%).
What can you do to raise awareness? Nikki’s father, Mike Kellenyi, is the founder of People Against Distracted Driving, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating teens, parents, and individuals about the fatal risks of distracted driving. Educating drivers in your community is exactly what you can do. Reach out to area teens though your local high school or community groups. Help them understand the consequences of texting and driving and that hands-free is no guarantee for safety. Multitasking is a myth. The brain goes quickly between tasks but can’t actually do two things at once, making texting and/or talking on the phone while driving particularly dangerous to new drivers.
To assist in this education effort, attorneys Ingerman and Horwitz have put together a scholarship to promote awareness of distracted driving, who are committed to the safety of Maryland’s drivers. Join with us in saying “just drive” by telling your friends and family about National Distracted Driving Month, JustDriveMD.com, or Parents Against Distracted Driving.
The contest rules are available at justdrivemd.com. The scholarship is open to Maryland high school seniors.