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On a warm spring day in 2009, a 58-year old woman, Julie Davis, was killed by a 19-year old driver, while walking on the side of the road with her best friend.
That statement is what most people read or heard on the evening news on April 15, 2009. What I heard was a phone call from my stepfather choking back tears and saying, “I’m sorry there was an accident, Julie was killed this afternoon”. As I write this, that memory still brings an ache to my heart and the tears still sting.
Julie Davis was not just a 58-year old woman; she was a wife, daughter, mother, sister, aunt, cousin, niece, best friend and one incredible grandmother.
According to the crash report and two witnesses, the driver was speeding at approximately 70MPH in a 55 zone and seen swerving several times before hitting my Mom. There wasn’t any attempt to break, no skid marks – she hit Mom at full speed.
It’s estimated she couldn’t have been looking at the road for 8.75 seconds to not see two adult women and her driving behavior fit that of a driver with divided attention as there were no other factors, such as weather, road conditions or vehicle malfunctions that would have contributed to the crash.
To me this wasn’t a fluke accident, it was a preventable crash. I know this driver didn’t intend to kill my Mom, but her choice to speed, not control her vehicle and not pay attention for 9 seconds while driving cost my family dearly… it cost her $173 traffic fine.
When I tell people our story, they are shocked to know the consequences for taking a life because of someone’s negligent decision resulted in a traffic ticket. The only people who are not shocked are other victim families. While this occurred in Wisconsin, my research has shown this is an all too common occurrence across our country.
My journey started on the campaign to end distracted driving as a way to keep my Mom’s memory alive. I miss her as much today as I did back in April 2009. But as I meet more victim and survivor families, I realize this issue is bigger than just my pain and I want to be part of the solution to end the needless pain and grief caused by such a senseless and preventable death.
I work with several organizations, including MSD, National Safety Council and DOT to name a few, in order to help bring awareness of this fast growing epidemic. To see our family’s story and those around the country, you can visit Secretary LaHood’s blog at http://fastlane.dot.gov/2010/12/faces-of-distracted-driving-julie-davis-58-one-second-she-was-there-and-the-next-she-was-gone.html
The National Safety Council also authored a white paper which details the statistics and science of the distracted brain while driving as it relates to cell phones which can be found on the NSC web site, along with other useful resources.   www.distracteddriving.nsc.org
You can also keep up with me on my blog  http://lauriehevier.typepad.com/blog/2012/06/continuing-my-journey.html

 

Julie and her granddaughter Laurie and her mother Julie