A new group called FocusDriven has been started by Elissa Schee. Schee’s daughter was killed in 2008, when a semi tractor trailer crashed into the school bus carrying the child. Police investigators found that driver distraction caused by cell phone use as well as hours of service problems caused the trucking accident. In response, Schee decided to start FocusDriven to change laws and to reduce the problem of distracted drivers.
Schee and other members of FocusDriven recently met with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to discuss possible bans on cell phone use while driving. All the members of FocusDriven had lost loved ones in trucking accidents, bus accidents, car accidents, and other vehicle accidents caused by a distracted driver who was using a cell phone at the time of the collision. All the members believe their loved ones would still be alive today if legislation was tougher on cell phone use among drivers.
Statistics and research seem to support their theories. Numerous studies have shown that texting or talking on a cell phone can be as deadly as drunk driving. In fact, both drunk drivers and drivers texting while driving have a four times greater chance of being in a collision than non-distracted drivers. Truck drivers and bus drivers are an especial danger when texting or talking on cell phones, since their vehicles are far more likely to kill or cause serious personal injuries in an accident.
Some states – including Florida – have considered legislation which would ban cell phone use among drivers. However, while such legislation has plenty of popular support some experts note that enforcing the legislation would be a considerable challenge. Some experts also suggest that public attitudes about texting and driving are not as fixed as attitudes about drunk driving, for example. Cell phone use while driving does not have the same social stigma, which may be one reason why driver distraction is so prevalent. These are just the sorts of attitudes that groups such as FocusDriven hope to change.
FocusDriven hopes to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and hopes to raise money for group activities. A FocusDriven will be located in Florida and the group hopes to open chapters in states across the country in upcoming months. The group is already being compared to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a group which was also initiated by a grieving parent and went on to change legislation as well as attitudes surrounding drunk driving accidents.