April Marks Distracting Driving Awareness Month, A Deadly Problem On American Roads

Looking down at your phone for just five seconds while behind-the-wheel at 55 mph is like driving the length of a football field while blindfolded.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and during a virtual conference on Monday about the devastating consequences of not paying attention on the road, a Maryland woman spoke about a tragedy that she caused.

Investigators found that she had been looking at her phone when she rear-ended a man in the car in front of her, causing a crash that killed him right before Christmas in 2015.

She was found guilty and served jail time, but she says that her mistake still haunts her every day.

“The most serious consequences are these,” Jennifer Weaver, the Maryland driver convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the crash that killed a man, said. “A loved one was lost. A wonderful, vital member of a family no longer walks this Earth because of me. Because the crash occurred on December 22nd, the holidays will never be the same for me nor for that gentleman’s family. I have inflicted pain on so many people.”

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota helped create the Safe To Drive Act, which was signed into law as part of the infrastructure package last November.

It gives grant funding to states that create laws around using devices while driving, and that money goes toward enforcing the laws and educating drivers about the consequences.

Klobuchar says she knows how it feels firsthand to have a close call behind the wheel in a different way, which inspired this legislation.

“I got involved in all this because my dad was an alcoholic and he had three DWIs, and I was in the car with him once when he swerved off the road, and when you have something like that happen to you when you’re a kid, you never forget it,” Sen. Klobuchar said. “And I saw how close we were to getting killed ourselves, or killing someone else.”

Klobuchar adds that her dad got treatment and became sober in the decades after.

While driving under the influence has been a public threat for a long time, cell phone use in the car doesn’t get as much attention.

In 2020, data showed that an average of eight Americans die and more than one thousand are hurt by distracted drivers every day.

 

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