This Father’s Day, Put Down the Cell Phone and Focus on the Road

A woman who lost her father in a car crash caused by a distracted driver is urging others to honor their own dads this Father’s Day by putting down their cell phones and focusing on the road.

Charlene Sligting-Doud’s father, John Sligting, was killed June 13, 2007, when his motorcycle was cut off by a teen driver who rolled through a stop sign while talking on her cell phone.

“Driving is a cognitive action. Talking on your cell phone is a cognitive action. Our brains are not wired to toggle between two cognitive things,” Sligting-Doud said in a new Faces of Distracted Driving video released by the U.S. Department of Transportation. “I encourage anybody who watches these videos to pause for a moment before they pick up that phone to make that phone call.”

The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates more than 100,000 crashes per year involve texting drivers. About 1.2 million crashes involve drivers distracted by their cell phones. Driving while using a cell phone requires the brain to multitask, a process it cannot do safely. Drivers focusing their attention on cell phone conversations instead of the road have a tendency to look at but not truly “see” up to 50 percent of the driving environment, which means they miss critical information such as stop signs, red lights and pedestrians.

Charlene Sligting-Doud manages the HEARTS Network at NSC. HEARTS, which stands for Honoring Everyone Affected, Rallying the Survivors, shares the stories of those whose lives have been changed by crashes involving teen drivers. Visit http://www.nsc.org/safety_road/
TeenDriving/Pages/HEARTSNetwork.aspx
to learn more.

“My father was a hero to many,” said Sligting-Doud. “He served in the military, he was a firefighter and he was an amazing father. Losing him devastated my family. People need to put their cell phones down and focus on the task of driving. Don’t spend Father’s Day sharing memories – spend Father’s Day making memories.”

The distracted driving video can be viewed at http://www.distraction.gov/faces/john-sligting.html. For more Faces of Distracted Driving videos, visit http://www.distraction.gov/faces.

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