“I don’t try to be on my phone while I’m driving,” said Lindsey Durnell. The Fort Wayne resident is very committed now about staying off her phone while driving. “I try to especially if I’m on highways or something. I really don’t want to ever have to go back to that situation ever again.”
That situation Lindsey referred to happened on November 15, 2015..She was on her phone while driving and ended up in critical condition. Her car was t-boned by a semi. The semi-driver was okay but she had to have an eight hour surgery. “You just don’t know how bad it can be until it happens to you. You don’t think about it while you’re doing it. You’re like oh this is innocent. I’ll just do it fast and I’ll be done but until it actually happens to you and you’re actually in that, it’s horrible. You don’t ever want to go through that. Nobody should ever have to go through that.”
Mark Novell runs Parker Service Towing company in Fort Wayne. After 28 years in business, he says distracted driving has gotten worse. “With cell phones yes quite a bit worse,” said Novell. “It used to be we had people that would miss a stop sign, miss a stop light but now you’ have people driving off the road, driving off the highway because they’re too busy looking at their phones, trying to text and drive and Facebook. Most of the cars in my lot are here because of distracted driving.”
“People have to be responsible individuals behind the wheel,” said Fort Wayne Police Lieutenant Tony Maze. Maze said Allen County saw 10,162 crashes from January 1st through October 1st of 2018. Many of the crashes caused by distracted drivers. “We’ve become complacent in what we’re doing behind the wheel and that’s dangerous,” he said.
“Driving while you’re distracted truly means you have a deadly weapon in your hands,” said Stephanie Jentgen, the Communications Director at the General Motors Fort Wayne Assembly Plant. The plant has taken a step to deal with that complacency that Lt. Maze described.
“I, Stephanie Jentgen pledge to remain distraction-free when I’m walking or driving on GM property or anywhere else. I will only use my mobile phone, radio, tablet computer or other device when I am in a safe location and out of harm’s way.”
In August 2018 the company asked its employees to voluntarily sign a safety pledge geared toward staying off their phones and other mobile devices while driving and walking. Over 500 employees signed it.
“We want our employees to be advocates for safety at home, on the roads, in their neighborhoods, in their families because we know distracted driving can be a huge problem. All we have to do is be a little more aware,” said Jentgen.
General Motor’s Mobile Device Safety Pledge is a pledge anyone can make. Even someone like Lindsey Durnell who is not a GM employee but believes making a personal pledge to stay off phones while driving could help save lives.
“I think it’s a great idea Durnell, especially with having children and everything like that. I’m scared for them. Yeah I think it’s a great idea.”
A modified copy of the Mobile Device Safety Pledge can be found in the pictures associated with this story.