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Parents Donate Daughter's Car to Educate About Texting and Driving

Steve Wagner

A Clinton County teenager was killed in a car accident on June 20. Maria Droesch, just 17 years old, was texting and driving when her car drifted into an oncoming lane of traffic and collided head-on with a pickup truck.

The number of vehicle accidents involving texting and driving continues to rise, and lives continue to be lost due this constant distraction. The family of Maria Droesch wants their Maria’s death to bring awareness and education to young people in hopes of convincing them to avoid the deadly activity. Maria’s parents have donated the car she was driving to the Clinton County Coroner’s Officer. It is the ultimate teaching tool, showing the very real consequences of texting and driving, and will be used in driver’s education classes. The car will also be used as a display at schools or for other organizational activities aimed at improving teen driver safety.

Distracted Driving is an Epidemic

Distracted driving is not new. We have always been distracted, albeit in simpler forms. We fiddled with the radio, ate while driving, tried to pick something up that was out of reach, or took our eyes off the road while talking with friends in the car. Smart phones and other electronic devices have brought the issue into even sharper focus. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), cell phones play a role in 1.6 million crashes every year. These accidents cause half a million injuries and kill 6,000 people annually.

Drivers across all age groups underestimate the impact of momentary distractions while behind the wheel. Many incorrectly believe that utilizing hands-free technology largely eliminates the risks, but studies consistently show similar distraction and accident rates between those using hands-free tech and those who are actually holding the phone.

Another mistake made by drivers is believing you can glance down for just a second. Researchers have shown such momentary distractions are actually distracting the driver for as long as 30 second to a full minute. Even checking a text message without responding increases your risk of an accident 12 times.

As states develop new laws and policies aimed at decreasing distracted driving, especially for higher-risk beginning drivers, it is critical for parents and teachers to engage in conversation with young drivers and others who may text and drive. Laws alone cannot fix this problem. Maria Droesch’s family intimately understands this and hopes to prevent other parents and families from such an unnecessary loss of young life. Though their efforts cannot help their daughter, they may be able to help others.

If you are interested in helping in theses educational efforts, the Clinton County Coroner’s office is accepting donations to support their anti-texting and driving campaign. You can donate by contacting the Coroner’s office at coroner@clintoco.com or sending donations to 1857 South Jackson Street, Frankfort, Indiana 46041. Checks can be made out to “Maria Droesch Texting Awareness.”

We at Wagner Reese have worked with many families whose lives were devastated by an accident caused by distracted driving. Please drive safely and speak with any young drivers in your home. If you find yourself in a situation where you or a loved one have been injured in a distracted-driving-related accident, call us today at (888) 204-8440.

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