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Jacy's Story: The Consequences of Distracted Driving

Hi all, Jacy here. I’ll answer really any questions you can come up with, but be patient, I’ll type my fastest with the one functioning arm I was left with after the accident. Thanks for joining me!

Thank you, Jacy, “for being part of the solution.”

I have narrowly avoided injury on several occasions, only because I am attentive and a defensive driver. I look at the drivers around and approaching me and prepare myself to take evasive action. That put me into the ditch-- to the tune of $5,000 in repairs— but I am alive and so is the other driver.

Still, “I am a better driver than everyone else,” so I have answered a cell-phone call while driving. Your story and your courage to share convince me to declare “NO MORE.”

I will not, under any circumstances, phone and drive. I will never, ever, text and drive.

Thank you. Know that you reached one more person. Keep up this good and important work.

Yours Sincerely;

Mark Covey

Hi Jacy. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I was in NJ recently visiting my family. I read the story of Brian & Erin Wood. Brian, a well-known game designer, was killed on 9/6 when an oncoming car hit him. The driver of the car was removing her sweater & had handed off the wheel to the person in the passenger’s seat. Cocaine & were found in the car. At the last moment, Brian made a decision to turn his car to the right so he would take the brunt of the collision; his wife Erin, who is pregnant with their first child, lived. The two backseat passengers in the oncoming car were both killed. It’s an extreme example of distracted driving but it was enough for me to make a decision to stop texting/checking my E-Mail etc. while driving. My rationalization was that I drive long stretched on a four-lane highway (separated by a grassy median). But I knew what I was doing & I knew it was dangerous. Reading your story has helped me decide that I shouldn’t be talking on the phone either, even with an earpiece. It’s just not worth it. I saw a billboard in NJ that said “Don’t drive while intexticated”. But talking on the phone is wrong too.

God bless you. I am so sorry about your parents; I know you miss them.

I sure would like to share Jacy’s story on Facebook, but when I click on the “share” link at the bottom of the page, it appears on my Facebook page to be Car Talk spam.

Cartalk lackeys, do you think you can fix this so more of us can share this story using social networking sites? When someone shares this article, the title of the article should be the heading, not “Car Talk. Car tips, advice, and troubleshooting.” Also, I should be able to include the pictures from the article, but they aren’t currently available.

I would like to spread the word on this important issue. Sharing this article should work as well as it does at other web sites. My Facebook friends won’t click on the link if it looks like spam, and it does.

Thank you, Jacy, for getting the word out.

The day I received a cellphone call while I was walking on Madison Avenue in Manhattan convinced me that talking on a cellphone while driving a car was simply out of the question for me.


Because I’m sufficiently old that, when I received the cellphone while I was walking, my unconscious prevailed, and I found myself standing still and talking. Something deep in my DNA just knew that talking and WALKING were out of the question for me. Obviously, if that’s the case, driving is doubly out!

The very best of luck to you and yours!

Walter Lipman

Dear Jacy,

You know we’re behind you and with you, every step of the way…
you are, our shining star, in hope that others will listen, and become aware…, but most importantly, think first, before they get behind the wheel with their phone.
I know when you go to speak in California next month, your words will speak volumes to all who are attending and listening, and watching,; so stand tall, stand proud, because we’re with you where ever you want to go, to talk, to walk, to teach, to make the difference, it’s what you do! And we’re very proud of what you do ! You _do make a difference !
see you later!


cousindave in Pa.

Wow, I’m so happy about these first few positive responses already! The whole reason I started to tell my story publicly was because I hoped it would have this impact. My family was forced through such an unimaginable amount of pain for such an unnecessary reason, and I quickly learned my story could make a difference. Upon learning this I knew I had to make an effort to prevent other people from going through what we went through. I’ll be in and out all day, but I’ll still be posting often.

I know taking your eyes of the road is dangerous, which is why I never text and drive. But I didn’t know talking on your phone was so distracting. And after reading some of the comments, I have a new understanding of what distracted driving really means.

So I have a new committment, I will stop my car when I need to do something that takes my attention off the road - from taking off a sweater to answering a phone call.

This will be an adjustment, but no more cell phone while driving. It’s not worth it. Thank you Jacy for sharing your story.


I’m very hopeful for you and your recovery, and of course wish you well in whatever the future brings you.

Your article with Car Talk didn’t mention whatever became of the person who struck you and your family: Was he himself injured? Did he go to jail? Has he spoken with you (or, do you even want to hear from him?)? Has he changed his life/behavior?

Separately, I’d be curious in your’s and others’ opinions of what new technologies (i.e., GPSs, Bluetooth accessories, etc.) in cars these days which, one could argue, either further distracts a driver or contributes to his/her safety while driving.

In my own state, Maryland, as of tomorrow (1 Oct), using a cellphone (let alone texting) is banned unless there’s a hands-free device (obviously not applicable for texting). Is this too little or just right in your opinion? Knowing this, some months ago, I bought a hands-free thingy that mounts to my visor and “connects” to my cell so I can verbally answer (or reject) incoming calls; it has a limited ability to make outbound calls using voice commands but I find it’s only so-so in this regard.

But your article gives me pause about which situations to use or not use this device altogether. It works well enough, and I can keep my hands on the wheel and look down the road, but even then perhaps I’m still technically (or actually) driving distracted when a call comes in, no? Your thoughts welcome on this, obviously.

Hang in there…seems you have many fans!


Jacy, thank you for chiming in. I will continue to try to spread the word.

In case anyone thinks hands-free devices make it okay, here is proof otherwise.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

I am truly saddened and shocked that we have known how dangerous it is to use a cell phone while driving for so long, but the cell phone lobby is still able to keep cell phone laws from being passed.

Hello? Cyberbabe, Tom and Ray, ANYBODY! Is someone going to address this or at least tell me whether anyone is working on this?


If you want us to spread the word, we need some technical assistance so this gets the right kind of intended attention. Right now, posting this on Facebook looks more like I am shilling for Car Talk than advocating for a cause.

In response to the questions-There were no criminal charges against either of the other drivers involved and no one else was injured. The young man who ran the red light was charged a small fine for failing to obey a traffic signal, but since it’s not illegal to talk on one’s cell phone while driving in Pennsylvania, no criminal charges were made. We have never heard from either of them outside of lawyer negotiations, and I’m not sure I’m ready to yet or ever want to.
In response to questions about blue tooths, one must take into consideration cognitive distraction. There are three types of distraction: manual (hands off the wheel), visual (eyes off the road), and cognitive (mind off the road). Cognitive distraction is by far the worst kind since few people will take their hands off the wheel or their eyes off the road for any extended period of time. In addition, states that have banned hand held cell phone use are seeing little difference in deaths by cell phone since using a blue tooth does not remove cognitive distraction. You can learn more from the National Safety Council’s research:
When it comes down to it, the possible risks of what could happen to you or what you could do to someone else, there’s almost nothing important enough to cause one to pick up the phone. I understand that it’s extremely difficult to ignore a ringing phone, which is why my phone is turned off or put on silent when I’m driving.

Whitey has an excellent post re drunk driving and cell phone use and the “mythbusters” videos. Coincidentally, just last night I listened to an old podcast from “Truth-Driven Thinking” in which the guest was sociologist Dr. David J. Hanson, who has written about the misleading facts regarding drunk driving. Turns out DISTRACTED driving is a bigger culprit in hurting, maiming and killing people than drunk driving. One of his concerns back then was the unwillingness of MADD to address distracted driving issues. He believes this could very well be because MADD receives significant financial support from the communications industry (cell phones) and the automobile industry (speeding). I haven’t yet checked to see if MADD has changed its thinking since then. Is this something you may know about? Thank you for speaking out with your passion about this enormous problem.

I am not aware of MADD’s official policy on cognitive distraction. I am a member of the federal organization FocusDriven, started by the secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood which advocates for cell-free roads. FocusDriven’s design is based off the same organization as MADD’s and MADD has been a strong supporter of FocusDriven’s mission. We are currently 8 members, all us having lost a family member/s to a distracted driving incident. Learn more at

Sorry for the delay and thanks for mentioning this. I agree that it would be better if the thumbnail and header matched the article. I have passed it along and I will keep you all posted as I hear back.


When it comes down to it, the possible risks of what could happen to you or what you could do to someone else, there’s almost nothing important enough to cause one to pick up the phone.

I couldn’t agree more.

Unfortunately, I think this speaks to a larger issue. All companies, including cell phone companies, have too much influence. Cell phone companies work diligently to keep these laws off the books, and even when they do pass, they are able to get exceptions for hands-free use.

I think this is a result of the Supreme Courts decisions to (A) give corporations the same rights as people, and (B) equate money spending with free speech. At least in this case, cell phone companies have used their influence to prevent laws from being passed that save lives. The cell phone companies have blood on their hands, but we keep supporting them by paying our cell phone bills every month.

Does anyone know of a cell phone company that doesn’t lobby against cell phone laws? If we could find one, we could drive people to switch to them.

God bless you for the motivation you find to do such noble work in the face of adversity!

I was listening to the radio the other day and the sad news about driving whilst talking on the cell is that even though it is banned in many cities across the U.S., it is not enforced! Until there is the manpower to enforce the law, I seriously doubt that we will see a big change in the numbers on talking and driving. It is through real-life stories that people like you, Jacy, find the courage to share with us that any change can occur.

Thank you for all that you are doing for this cause, and may your road to restored health be as short as possible :slight_smile:

Thanks so much! I started out just wanting to get a law passed in Pennsylvania (which I still want! If this isn’t an example of vehicular homicide/involuntary manslaughter, I don’t know what is, and someone who causes this kind of pain needs to be punished criminally), but I agree 100%-laws do nothing if the attitudes don’t change, which is why I tell my story to anyone who will listen.) Enforcement will also make a big difference. You can read federal Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood’s blog about a project set up in Hartford, CT and Syracuse, NY to really prove a point with enforcement:
On another note, I’m now living in New York to have access to some of the best doctors and therapists in the country, and cell phone use is illegal in New York. Unfortunately, this hardly seems to have an impact on anyone at all. Every day as I drive down the road, I go crazy that drivers are so unaware of the dangers, and apparently unaware of the laws! However, I must admit, yesterday I drove from New York, through New Jersey, where cell phone use is also illegal, into Pennsylvania where cell phone use is still legal. As I traveled through New Jersey and New York, I saw a handful of drivers using their handheld cell phones, but when I crossed the state line into Pennsylvania it really seemed like every other driver was on his/her phone! I’m starting to think that laws hopefully at least make people think twice before picking up the phone.

I think we should make a movement to remove airbags from the steering wheel and in it’s place we’d put a large spike that rests an inch or two from the driver’s face, neck , or chest. I think a LOT more people would pay attention to their surroundings if they knew one wrong move and they’d get impaled on a sharp, pointy object

Google Smart Car vs. Semi. The story was some guy in Canada was texting while driving on a two lane road. He eventually drove on the wrong side of the road and ran into a semi. The front axle of the semi was pushed back about 2 feet, and the paramedics pulled the guy out in 2 pieces. IMO, those photos should be shown in driver’s ed.