On Friday my co-worker Stephanie Schlegel told me about Oprah’s ‘No Phone Zone’ campaign that asks us to take the pledge to make our automobiles a no-phone zone. So I headed on over to the Oprah Winfrey Show’s Facebook page and clicked on the ‘No Phone Zone’ link where I saw four videos. I didn’t immediately watch the videos. Instead, I paused and stared at the faces of Kelly Cline, Shelly Forney, Jerry Cibley, and Jennifer Smith.I just knew that each of them was going to have a heart-wrenching story that would bring tears to my eyes. It was the middle of the workday and I didn’t exactly need to be sobbing while I worked, so I didn’t watch any of them and clicked to another window and continued with my work.
A few minutes later I clicked back to the tab with the videos and decided to watch Shelly Forney’ story. Shelly shares with us how she was on the phone with her dad as she was driving home one evening and as she reached her street she told her dad that she had to go because she noticed at the end of the street there were flashing lights and emergency vehicles.
As any mother would feel in this situation, your heart starts racing for fear it’s your family, and for Shelly it was. As she got closer she saw a child’s body but had no idea it was her daughter until she saw her daughter’s mangled bicycle. Her daughter Erica was hit and killed by a woman driving a SUV who was distracted by her cell phone at the time of the accident. Shelly says in the video, “I cannot get her back because of a person on a cell phone.”
Watching that video brought me to tears, as I knew it would; and yet, I couldn’t take the pledge. I wasn’t about to click and take the pledge if I wasn’t going to really mean it and stick to it.
In my sadness for Shelly and her loss, I sat for a minute and thought about how much I talk on the phone, hands-free of course, while driving. If I’m not listening to the radio or a podcast while driving then I’m catching up on returning phone calls. I’ve always found driving to be a great time to get caught up on calls, so taking such a pledge would end that and I wasn’t sure if I could truly stick to it and never use my phone in my car again. So, I clicked away from that window and went back to work.
Shelly’s story just stayed with me as I continued to work and I couldn’t shake it. I later went back and watched all four videos. Each of them told a heartbreaking story of how they had lost a loved one to texting or talking on a mobile phone while driving.
The story that hit me the most was that of Jerry Cibley and his 18-year-old son Jordan who died after Jerry had called him while Jordan was driving. During that call Jerry said that all of a sudden the phone went dead and he assumed, like we all do when that happens to us, that the battery died. But then 15-20 minutes later police officers showed up at his door and informed him of the accident. Jerry rushed to the hospital and it was there that they informed him that his son Jordan had died. They believe that Jordan had dropped his cell phone while talking to his dad and when he reached down to get it, he hit a tree and was killed instantly.
Jerry’s story had me sobbing and it was in that moment that I realized that my life or your life is not worth that phone call or text message, so right then I took the ‘No Phone Zone’ pledge.
Yes, it’s going to be very difficult to make this change, stay committed to the pledge and not use my phone while driving, but it’s worth it and so far I’ve stuck to it. Of course, it’s only been two days, but I think the easiest way for me to stick to it is to remove temptation and just put my iPhone on airplane mode while driving. I encourage you to do the same.
Join Oprah and the rest of us who have taken the ‘No Phone Zone’ pledge and let’s save lives because the life we could be saving might be your life. And if you need a little push, like I did, just watch the stories of Kelly Cline, Shelly Forney, Jerry Cibley, and Jennifer Smith and I think you’ll agree that a phone call or text message is not worth risking your life or someone else's life. Take the pledge.
For more info visit the Oprah.com's 'No Phone Zone' page.