Jacy Good: “You’re Not That Important”
Jacy Good: A distracted driving victim’s appeal to all drivers
Since Jacy Good’s miraculous recovery from a crash caused by a distracted driver, that killed both her parents, she has worked tirelessly to educate the country about the dangers of cell phone use behind the wheel. Jacy has written the following article in support of eDriving’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month campaign.
So often when I read the dozens of articles published each week reporting on how very dangerous we know cell phone use by drivers to be (that is any and all cell phone use) or a story sharing yet another community’s loss at the hands of a driver distracted by a phone, or an account of a state’s failure to enact meaningful road safety laws, the authors seem to write with great pessimism. The ideas that government can’t regulate common sense or invade constituents’ civil liberties, that it’s not the government’s job to micromanage citizens actions, run rampant. Even when authors seem to be in support of putting an end to the senseless pain happening on our roads the article will end with a flippant, “In spite of this tragedy, as a species we are all far too addicted to ever travel from point A to point B without the warm glow of our smartphones!”
Unfortunately for anyone who has ever been impacted by a collision at the hands of a thoughtless, reckless, and selfish driver, the way in which we drive and treat each other on the road is forever changed. When The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) records 94% of road crashes caused by human error it means that we have the ability to prevent 94% of crashes, plain and simple. This is an obligation, not a choice. If it’s predictable, it’s preventable.
It’s been almost nine years since losing my parents to a chain of events started by a driver conversing on his cell phone. His error caused an 18-wheeler carrying 30 tons of milk to careen over our family’s car. In those nine years NOT ONCE have I interacted with my phone while being the only person in control of the few thousand pounds of metal around me. Every single one of us is capable of being, and must be, the smartest and safest driver we can possibly be.
In the last six years I’ve shared this message with over 700 audiences across the country impacting hundreds of thousands of drivers and passengers young and old alike. My first question when arriving in a new town is how their community has been impacted by road tragedy. I have yet to find a population who has not been touched. The stories range from drunk driving to traveling over the speed limit to the frighteningly common and sadly increasing occurrences of loss to distracted drivers. These are human errors. These tragedies are predictable. And, most importantly, these tragedies never have to happen again if we all just remember that old platitude and start treating others the way we’d like them to treat us while we’re sharing the road.
There’s a conversation, or variations of a conversation, I’ve had more times than I can count revolving around the concept of putting others in my shoes. It’s usually after a speech and with a school principal or corporate fleet manager. They all hope that the audience can imagine the shock and pain of losing the ones closest to their hearts at the hands of something so senseless (without having to endure the unbearable reality of actually going through it) and then use that experience to make a change in behavior on the road. Few things can improve this world so much as a little more empathy and at the rate these incidents are happening it’s only a matter of time until we are all standing much closer to these shoes than we would ever wish.
One of my favorite interactions from these travels was in a high school when at the end of an assembly a teacher raised his hand to admit his heinous distracted driving ways. He declared how moved he was before asking, “But what can I tell myself to keep myself in check and change my ways?” I was grateful for the potent assistance received from another teacher who yelled, “YOU ARE NOT THAT IMPORTANT!”
And so this has become my closing message for every new group I meet. At the end of the day no matter how hard it might be to see from the driver’s seat – it doesn’t matter who you are, how old you are, how nice you are, what your job is, YOU ARE NOT THAT IMPORTANT.
AAA studies report the vast majority of drivers (91.7%) believe distracted driving is a somewhat or much bigger problem than three years ago. At the same time, more than two in three drivers (68.2%) say they have talked on a cellphone in the past 30 days; more than 40% have read a text or an email during that time frame. We know it’s dangerous and deadly and still we can’t control ourselves.
This is your wakeup call. I dream of the day we all live in the reality that there is not a single thing on any of our phones that is more important than the lives we all have planned to live out. You already know it. Now you just need to live it. Help me make this dream a reality.