I talked to my General Manager on Monday and asked if, at our next regional meeting, we could bring up the subject of typing on blackberries while driving. He gave me the "go ahead", so here's what I plan on saying. I know it's a long read, but any feedback or suggestions would be greatly appreciated !!!
As many of you know, getting up in front of a group of people is definitely not one of my favorite things to do, so to prevent my stuttering and falling over my words, I decided to write them down and read them instead. If you see tears (although Iíve become quite proficient at holding them back), itís because this is something that is very close to my heart.
As you have obviously figured out, I went to Mike and asked if this subject could be discussed at todayís meeting. About a week or so ago, I discovered that some of you respond to emails on your blackberry while driving. I have since asked several field travelers and several staff managers if they do this and was surprised to hear that MANY of you have done this at least once. To those I asked, I appreciate your honesty in your responses.
I know that when we get behind the wheel of our cars, our first thought is not ďwhat are the possible consequences if we are distracted while drivingĒ. No one EVER thinks that they could be the cause of an accident or, worse yet, that they could be the cause of taking someoneís life. That only happens to other people. Well, Iím here to tell you thatís not true. There ARE consequences that are suffered because of otherís distractions. I lost my son because someone was not putting their complete concentration into their driving. It certainly was not this manís intention to cut my son off, but do you think that mattered to me and to all those whose lives were changed in that instant. There IS no second chance when someone dies. What is left is an excruciating pain and an indescribable feeling of emptiness that is felt every day for the rest of your life.
For those of you who have children, I ask you to go home and just watch your kids and think about how enriched they have made your lifeÖÖÖÖÖ.then close your eyes and try to imagine your world without them. You canít do it, because itís unimaginable. I canít even begin to tell you how my life changed. Iím not the same person I was, and I never will be. To those that donít have kids, try to imagine life without a brother, sister, or parent. Again, itís unimaginable. Before my son died, I used to read about these kinds of accidents in the newspaper. Of course I thought how sad that was, but then Iíd get in my car and do some of the very same things that caused these accidents. Not anymore!!! Now I see these articles and I cry because I know what these families are going through and I wouldnít wish it upon anyone, especially upon people that I care about.
Iím not bringing up Joey to make anyone feel uncomfortable. Iím bringing him up to hopefully convince you that any distraction while driving can result in devastating consequences, not only to others, but to yourself as well, even if you just take your eyes off the road for a second.
Since this is such a numbers oriented company, I thought Iíd share a few statistics that I found on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. Nearly 80% of crashes and 65% of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention within 3 seconds before the event. The US gets an average of 42,000 car crash related deaths per year. To break that down for you, thatís about 115 deaths PER DAY. To me, that means that at least 80% of all those crashes, which would amount to 92 fatalities a day, could have been avoided. Thatís 92 families a day that have to suffer the pain of unnecessarily losing someone they love.
I understand that sometimes, there just doesnít seem to be enough time to respond to all the emails that I know you receive on a daily basis, but I also understand that if, God forbid, something ever happened and you were the cause of an injury or a fatality because of your inattention, you would never forgive yourselves. So, Iím begging all of you to please just pull over or wait until you get to your destination before starting to respond to your emails. Believe me, those 3 seconds you save is not worth that instant that you just MIGHT change someone elseís life in the worst possible way.
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Joey Lott - One of the greatest gifts of my life