March 29, 2014

Hang Up And Drive

Hang Up And Drive
By John R. Greenwood

I listened to a story today. That story inspired me to write this one. It’s about death. It’s about living. It’s about changing our culture one cell phone at a time. It’s about speaking up. It’s about speaking out. It’s about a young woman named Jacy Good. If you read one thing today please read this short but important piece about why you should follow Jacy's plea to, “Hang Up and Drive.” 

I recently attended New York Motor Truck’s Safety and Education Symposium in Albany. It was there that I was fortunate enough to meet Jacy Good. Jacy is one of the bravest women I have ever had the honor to meet. Jacy spoke  to a packed room on the dangers of distracted driving. She called it a global epidemic. When 15 people a day die from things like talking on a cell phone it is indeed an epidemic. Imagine the public outrage if 15 people a day died on our nations highways from a snipers bullet. Because cell phones are so ingrained in our lives we seem to find these deaths acceptable- they are not. When you listen to Jacy Good’s story you will agree that one death from distracted driving is too many. Both of Jacy’s parents died on the way home from her college graduation. Jacy came as close to death as you can get. She was so badly injured she was given a 10% chance of survival in the weeks after the crash. After a dozen plus days in a coma, months in the hospital, and years in rehabilitation, she emerged as a young woman with no parents, a loving brother, and a supportive boyfriend who is a hero in his own right. This post will include some links to Jacy’s story and her website I encourage all my driving friends, coworkers, and readers to take the time to learn more about this amazingly proud and brave young lady. She is now a wife, and advocate for safe driving. 

Jacy’s story really had an affect on me. I am not what you would call a cell phone junkie. I have a company cell phone and it never leaves my side. I use it sparingly and it has no texting abilities. My job description insures that my phone is just as likely to go off at 2am as it is 2pm. There is a 98% chance that when it rings it will be a problem and not a call from the NYS Lottery. When it comes to distracted driving it’s the people under my supervision that are the ones I want to protect most. I do my very best to keep them safe and encourage them to do everything within their power to keep others safe. The best way for them to stay out of harms way is for them to use their skill, experience, and common sense at every turn. Safe driving has been my life for many years and as Jacy pointed out, the world is suffering from a global epidemic called distracted driving. We have created a dangerous atmosphere out on the blacktop. Simply look around out there and you will see how bad it is. We could all write a book on the insane things we witness on our highways. 

I wrote this piece for a number of reasons; one is fear. I don't want to be involved in an accident. I don't want to see anyone involved in one. It is my job to prevent them and I take it very seriously. One thing is clear. You need to put your full attention into the task of driving. It's not something that should be secondary when behind the wheel. The problem is that we as a society don't take things seriously until they knock at our own front door. Only then do we say,"I should have listened." We wait until the clock strikes to take action. My hope would be for you to check out Jacy's website and do some homework now before something happens. Meeting her face to face really touched a nerve with me. Because she is the age of my own children it made me realize what she must face on a daily basis. I think it is important to listen to a true life and death story to understand the full aftershock a tragedy like Jacy's has. 

I walked away from that two day conference with one thing reverberating through my mind; speak up and speak out. I felt empowered by another person's tragic story. The other point to be made is how her resolve to find out what happened to cause the accident that took her parents resulted in her advocacy. Her loss ignited a mission to save others from the same fate. Her commitment to spreading the word about the dangers of distracted driving is inspiring. I find her strength along with her husbands to be most admirable. 

The problem of distracted driving is not going to be solved easily. Technology and additional laws will swell to mountainous levels trying to smother an issue that you can eliminate today without doing anything more than shutting off your phone. There are many tips and advice out there but the simple answer is to simply hang up and drive. 

I am a Certified NYS Defensive Driving Instructor and I now have two war cries:
  • Keep a Safe Following distance
  • Hang up and Drive
Anyone who knows me and has taken one of my courses knows that my pet peeve is following distance. I now have two. If everyone you encountered on your way to the mall would follow these two simple rules, think about how much safer you would feel. Think about how much safer your friends, family, and neighbors would be. 

You can't control others. You can control yourself, start there. Speak up too. Don't allow someone else to put you at risk. If your friend picks up a phone while they're driving, think about Jacy Good. Think about me. Think about how much you enjoy the love of family and friends. Why would you let someone else put that at risk for you. We can do this. We must do this. Jacy Good and I are counting on it. 

Start by doing your part to end Distracted Driving.


  1. This is such an important topic. Thank you for covering it so well.

  2. Thanks Teresa, I couldn't help but share Jacy's message more publicly.

  3. Wonderful, impassioned writing about an important topic. Thanks, John!! She is a courageous young woman.