it’s betty lou’s birthday

Sobering is my reaction to this email today from Rob Gladden, VP at the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Rob, as one would expect, rides to his Southern California office daily. And it goes without saying; he knows the rules. If you drive you should read this. If you ride you should read this. Don’t. Text. And. Drive.

it’s betty lou’s birthday

by Robert Gladden

Today is my daughter’s second birthday. While she doesn’t exactly know why everyone around her is even happier than usual today, as the years go by she’ll appreciate more and more how this day is special for her.

But this morning that was almost taken away from her.

While I was riding my motorcycle to work this morning I came up behind a white Dodge Neon four-door that was in the number one lane traveling about ten miles an hour slower than the flow of traffic. There wasn’t a rear view mirror inside the car, and the side mirror was out of adjustment and I couldn’t even see if there was someone behind the steering wheel.

I changed lanes to my left to pass the car since traffic was bunching up behind me. As I pulled alongside to Dodge I glanced down into the car. There, behind the wheel, was a young woman. She had both hands on her phone, typing with her thumbs, and was steering with her knees while driving in rush hour traffic on the interstate through Orange County. At that moment, she drifted into my lane, crossing over the painted line. She came with a few feet of me before she overcorrected back into her lane. I kept moving ahead, and changed lanes back to the number one lane once I got a car between her and me.

If she had hit me it would have either knocked me into the pickup truck to my right, or knocked me down and under the wheels of the SUV behind me. Either scenario would probably kill me instantly, on my daughter’s birthday.

So instead of waking up every June 21st for the rest of her life and celebrating her birthday, my daughter would wake up every June 21st for the rest of her life and be reminded that her daddy was taken away from her; that her daddy’s life was less important than a text message. No father-daughter dances, no escort down the aisle, no giving away the bride. She’d grow up without ever knowing her daddy.

I’m sending this email to you and asking you to PLEASE PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE WHILE YOU ARE DRIVING. “Distracted driving” is on pace to eclipse drunk driving as the leading cause of deaths on the road. Is there anything so important in an email or a text message that you’re willing to kill some little girls’ daddy to read it or answer it? Unfortunately in California and many other states the laws on texting/emailing/talking while driving are a simple fine – no points – and since they have no teeth are pretty much ignored.

For the sake of Betty Lou, and all the other little girls and boys out there, please put away your phone and put your hands on the wheel.

On behalf of Betty Lou, thanks for reading this email.

2 thoughts on “it’s betty lou’s birthday

  1. John Siebenthaler Post author

    Good call. I think there has to be a major professionally created campaign launched towards changing this behavior and not just awareness.

    Earlier blog announced the Cannes prize for pr to an ad shop, with the caveat that more entries didn’t target behavior which is, of course, the core purpose of public relations.

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