Distracted Drivers Take Eyes, Hands And Brain Off The Road

9:17 PM, Jul 1, 2010   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- Mother's Day, shortly after 6 pm, truck driver Jayne Perkins, on her cell phone, rear-ends a car carrying 15-year-old Daryl Baucum and 11-year-old Isaiah Reynolds.

"Cell phone use while driving, don't choose their victims, like playing Russian roulette. It can be whoever, whenever, and however," says Daryl Reynolds.

In the accident report, the truck was going 50 mph at impact, the boys' car was at a standstill stopped in traffic. Perkins' words, "I looked up and all I saw were brake lights."

"I really feel angry because they really don't understand the magnitude of the consequences that that cell phone can cause to themselves, their family and another family," says their dad.

The accident claimed the lives of Reynolds' two sons.

"I truly don't want anyone to have to deal with the anguish, this sorrow, this frustration on a daily basis the way me and my family have to deal with."

It only takes seconds for a tragedy to happen.

"In two seconds on a highway, you can travel about the length of a football field which is quite some way to travel without looking at the roadway," says Arthur Goodwin, a researcher at the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center. He says distracted driving can take on many forms.

"The way we think about distractions is different kind of tasks can distract you in different ways. Things that take your mind off the road or some things can take your hands off the road, or they can take your eyes off the road. The more ways they distract you the more dangerous it's going to be."

We hit the highways to see the dangers of distracted driving. Our cameras captured people on their cell phone at 65 mph oblivious to the cars around them.

We saw how cars drifted back and forth in lanes. That's not all we caught, we found several people who appeared to be texting while driving.

"By far and away the most risky one is texting, because it takes your hands, your eyes and your brain off the road at the same time," says Goodwin.

Texting while driving is illegal in North Carolina but that didn't stop several drivers we saw. One man even took both hands off the wheel and eyes off the road.  He puts one hand back on the wheel as he slowly drifts towards the median.

"The research is quite clear, most of us think we can do two things at once but your brain is only capable of doing one thing at a time," says Goodwin.

Just being on a cell phone, hands free or not, takes your mind off the road.

Goodwin's research shows a young man on the cell phone looking ahead. Goodwin says he still doesn't see the stopped school bus and cars in front of him. He slams on the brakes, and the driver behind him has to do the same and swerve to avoid an accident.

"My biggest question is who is it going to be today, who is it going to be tomorrow, it really can be your family tomorrow," says Reynolds.

Daryl believes his campaign to get people to hang up while driving will help bring him peace.

"Just because we have done it, don't mean we have to continue. What is the worth of a human life? What is the value?"

Even though Daryl Reynolds would like to see all cell phones in cars banned , he taking it one step at a time. He is collecting signatures to make driving while talking on a cell phone and causing an accident an aggravating factor.

He also says he will hold a march the first Saturday of each month to bring awareness to this problem. The next one is set for July 10th due to the holiday weekend.

You can get more information on Daryl Reynolds' campaign at www.dbi4change.com.

WFMY News 2

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