A White Plains woman brought the dangers of driving while distracted to an assembly of Franklin high school students on Wednesday. The appearance of 26-year-old Jacy Good was sponsored by the school’s Students Against Destructive Decisions chapter.
In May 2008, Good was driving home from her college graduation in Allentown, with her parents. She was born and raised in Lancaster County, Pa.
About halfway home, an 18-year-old, distracted by his cellphone conversation, said she ran a red light, causing a multivehicle accident that killed both her parents and left her with many broken bones and organ injuries. She was in a coma for two weeks. She remains largely paralyzed on the left side of her body.
“I’m here to bring you into my world,” she said. “I’m not going to tell you what to do, but I want to tell you my story.”
She said she can’t remember it all, but with the help of her fiance, Steve Johnson, who appeared in a taped segment, she gave a presentation entitled “Hang Up and Drive: Jacy and Steve’s Journey.”
“My parents didn’t need to die. I didn’t need to be handicapped the rest of my live,” she said. “We have to be the ones who will change the culture. When you sit down in the driver’s seat don’t use your phone.”
Four months after the accident she moved back to her parent’s home months and began her efforts to give the tragedy meaning. This involved learning about the problem of driving while distracted and how she could save other lives, and joining FocusDriven — Advocates for Cell-Free Driving.
As part of her advocacy she met with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and in April 2010 appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show to help raise awareness.
In the United States, about 15 people die each day from distracted driving, she said. This includes driving with a hands-free device and texting.
“You all have the power to save lives,” by turning off the cellphone or putting it in the glove compartment where it won’t be a distraction, she said. “It may not be the cool thing to do — but you need to,” she said.
Two SADD students said they were moved by the presentation.
President Ayrica Bunt, a senior, said she thinks the message got through. She had used her phone while driving until she saw this presentation last November. It was hard at first, but she is glad she did.
“I thought it was incredible,” junior Stephen Banks said. It was “inspirational” to see what she overcame. He didn’t need to be convinced about changing his behavior, but classmates might think twice after seeing someone who was in a car accident.