On April 30, I had the pleasure of attending the No Phone Zone event at the Washington, D.C. Newseum.
So how did I get here? ACE is a member of an amazing coalition called the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS). NOYS is a collaboration of national, youth-serving organizations, including non-profit organizations and government agencies, with the common goal of promoting safe and healthy behaviors among our nation's youth. NOYS, along with a number of government and advocacy organizations were involved with the event so that’s how I was able to attend.
So what was the event about? The No Phone Zone pledge asks drivers to resist the impulsive responses to text messages and phone calls while they drive. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, approximately 6,000 people die each year from distracted driving. Although the geography differs, many fatalities and injuries occur because drivers are not paying attention to the road.
While the event, replicated in five other cities, highlighted Oprah’s national campaign to curb dangerous driving habits, my best memory was manifest in a different form. Gayle King, radio personality and Oprah’s best friend, autographed my NPZ sign and briefly chatted after the event. Admittedly, I felt pretty special. However the interaction connected me to the statistics, and by extension, Ms. King’s conviction.
Currently, it is legal to operate your phone while driving in more than two dozen states. My home state of New York saw the light much earlier than I and outlawed it several years ago. That day I committed not to drive and text.
ACE also illuminates public dangers, such as inhaling and getting behind the wheel through its inhalant program. Events like the one today happen across the country throughout the year and it is important that we do our part to continue raising awareness about dangerous behavior. You may not be a world changer but you can certainly begin the change with you.