Monday, May 28, 2012

Stay Alive! Don't Text and Drive Update

     Did you know distracted driving is the number one killer of American teens? That is a dreadfully scary thought, especially when you realize that distracted driving-related accidents are 100% preventable. I have a hard time imagining anything worse than losing someone you love in an accident, but knowing that the accident could have been prevented would be more frustrating. Distracted driving, including texting while driving, is a major problem in our society, especially with our younger population.

     Did you know they have toys for toddlers that look and sound like cell phones? Our teenagers have literally had a cell phone in their hands since about the same time they were learning how to walk.

     Meritus Medical Center is home to a trauma center that serves Washington and Frederick Counties in Maryland, as well as parts of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. On a daily basis, trauma surgeons and nurses see the devastation of families and communities caused by preventable accidents with young victims. As a regional trauma center, Meritus Health trauma and emergency services thought an injury prevention program about distracted driving was crucial for our community. Born from this thought was, Stay Alive! Don’t Text and Drive, a program that encourages teens and their families to sign pledges to end distracted driving. My name is Jen Marsh, one of the campaign coordinators of Stay Alive! Don’t Text and Drive. In August 2011, the campaign was out and about in the community, visiting area high-school football games. More than 3,000 people signed the pledge in a matter of months! Community partners and local business leaders jumped on board, giving the campaign even more momentum.

     Early in the 2011-2012 school year, Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) reached out to us about our campaign and the possibility of bringing this life-saving message to their public high schools! Of course, we were honored by the opportunity, so we packed up our cars and took the show on the road! Perfectly timed, right before proms and graduations, we partnered with FCPS, Frederick Regional Health System, and Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue to take the campaign to all 10 public high schools. In a matter of three weeks in April, we visited about 9,000 high-school students, passed out numerous Stay Alive! Don’t Text and Drive T-shirts, bumper stickers and bracelets, and had almost 5,000 pledges signed by students and school administrators. Nothing makes me smile more than seeing a teenager wearing the campaign T-shirt out and about or seeing cars sporting the cool bumper sticker with our life-saving campaign message.

     So … have you signed the pledge to not drive distracted? If the answer is no, than please consider making the commitment. Go to to take the pledge. Do it for the young child in his car seat who sits behind you when you are driving. Lead by example for the teenager who is getting ready to get their driver’s license. Do it for your kids, your neighbor’s kids, your parents, grandparents, and friends. Please, please, please put the phone down. Be safe and enjoy another day.

I have taken the pledge and encourage you to do the same. Thanks!

By: Jennifer Marsh

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