A few days ago, I posted an article about teen driving, the leading cause of death among Americans between the ages of 15 and 20. In that article, I pointed out that 2 out of 3 fatalities in crashes involving teenaged drivers are individuals other than the teen driver. This article is about one of those fatalities.
In an effort to elevate the human toll of distracted driving beyond mere statistics, the U.S. Department of Transportation created its “Faces of Distracted Driving” video series. This week a new entry in the series was released.
The poignant video features Charlene Sligting-Doud, who lost her father, John Sligting, in a distracted driving crash on June 13, 2007 – just a few days before Father’s Day. On the fourth anniversary of her father’s death, Charlene urges drivers to focus on safety this Father’s Day weekend.
On June 13, 2007,56-year-old veteran and firefighter John Sligting was killed when a teen driver talking on her cell phone rolled through a stop sign and into the path of his motorcycle. Charlene is now a victim advocate who speaks out against distracted driving for the National Safety Council.
“My father was a hero to many,” said Charlene. “He served in the military, he was a firefighter and he was an amazing father. Losing him devastated my family. People need to put their cell phones down and focus on the task of driving. Don’t spend Father’s Day sharing memories – spend Father’s Day making memories.”
Charlene now manages the HEARTS Network at the National Safety Council. HEARTS, which stands for Honoring Everyone Affected, Rallying the Survivors, shares the stories of those whose lives have been changed by crashes involving teen drivers.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood praised the HEARTS Network and Charlene, “I applaud Charlene for all of the work she is doing to raise awareness about this deadly epidemic, and I hope that everyone who hears about the loss of her father will remember to keep their eyes on the road, their hands on the wheel, and their focus on driving this Father’s Day weekend.”
“Distracted driving cost me my father, the most amazing person I will ever know,” said Charlene. “We all make choices when we get behind the wheel, and those choices have consequences. Please keep those you care about safe: Don’t use your cell phone will driving.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the HEARTS Network should visit, www.nsc.org/hearts.
“Faces of Distracted Driving” is a video series exploring the tragic consequences of texting and cell phone use while driving. It features people from across the country who have been injured or lost loved ones in distracted driving crashes. In 2009, nearly 5,500 people died and half a million were injured in accidents involving a distracted driver.
Photo & Graphic courtesy The HEARTS Network