Family: A Lethal Distraction

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While driving to a game of golf, Douglas Kidd was talking to his brother on the phone. A few minutes into their call, the phone went silent. When Douglas' brother, Dave, called back, Douglas did not answer the phone - an EMT did.

"I was dead," Douglas said. He went into cardiac arrest after being hit by a Suburban going 50 mph. While talking on the phone about his golf game, Douglas did not stop long enough at the stop sign to see the car coming down the road and pulled right in front of it.

"I initiated the call. It was a last minute detail about catching up on the putting green."

The occupants of the other vehicle were uninjured. Douglas, however, nearly lost his life that day. He survived and now he shares his story of being a distracted driver.

The story of Douglas' crash is too common. Distracted driving kills thousands of people each year and injures thousands more. Much like in Douglas' story, family is usually at the other end of the call. This month the National Safety Council released results of our distracted driving survey, which found that more than 4 in 5 Americans feel pressure from their families to drive distracted.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness month, which is a great time to make a personal commitment and encourage your friends and family to drive distraction-free. While we may feel pressured to respond to family while driving, they can also be our best allies in safer driving by establishing some ground rules:

• Explain to family that you will not answer the phone while driving.
• If you call them and realize they are driving, tell them to hang up and call you
when they are safely parked.
• Assure family that you do not expect them to respond to texts if they are driving.

Many distractions exist while driving, but cell phones are a top distraction because so many drivers use them for long periods of time each day. Almost everyone has seen a driver distracted by a cell phone, but when you are the one who is distracted, you often don't realize that driver is you.

"In 2007, 2 years after the crash, I found myself on my phone while driving - it was just a reflex," Douglas said, "when I realized it, I hung up the phone. I recognize how wonderful it is to be alive, but to face death...I can't verbalize how my body recoiled in using my cell phone while driving."

Douglas Kidd tells his story so no one else has to experience what he did but we all have an obligation to take back our drive so everyone gets to their destination safely.

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