The dangers of distracted driving are all too real for Darren Mason ’86.
Last year, Darren’s good friend, and his friend’s father, were killed instantly in a head-on collision when a teenaged driver crossed into their lane while distracted. His friend’s daughter in the backseat survived, but with life-altering consequences.
It was a tragic and senseless accident that compelled Darren to help form a grassroots campaign to raise awareness and remind people to stay alert while driving. The campaign urges people to forget social media while in a vehicle—the world can wait. He and his friends have been speaking at schools to start conversations that makes distracted driving as socially unacceptable as drunk driving. Friday morning, he spoke to the students, faculty, and staff of St. Andrew’s, handing out “Eyes on the Road” wristbands to reinforce his message.
“Thirty years ago ‘some old guy’ came to SAC and talked to us about drunk driving,” said Darren, pointing to the area in Ketchum where he and his friends sat, admitting the UCC game and the after party were foremost in their minds that day. The message took root, however, and in university it gave him the courage to wrestle the car keys away from a buddy who’d had too much to drink.
“I got a black eye for it, but the next day the guy thanked me for saving his life.”
Darren appealed to the SAC audience saying, “I’m the old guy now and you are the influencers. Your voice is meaningful and can make a difference.” Distracted driving is not only dangerous to yourself and others, but it’s so not cool.
According to a March 2015 OPP Report, distracted driving is the leading cause of deaths on the road, now killing more people than alcohol.
The presentation concluded with the AT&T video It CanWait (LINK). It begins with students laughingly giving excuses for sometimes texting and driving. Their attitudes sober up when introduced to a young woman left severely disabled, having lost both parents when their car was struck by a car whose driver was texting. As they learn about the young woman’s situation, they tearfully realize the potential consequences of their actions. The message resonates with the audience in Ketchum, who remain silent for several seconds as the short but powerful video ends.
To learn more about the Eyes on the Road campaign and to keep the conversation going, visit www.eyesotr.com or #eyesOTR.
Story by Cindy Veitch