HEALTH-FITNESS

Trinity launches community initiative to combat distracted driving

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Trinity Regional Health System is launching “Just Drive,” a new initiative asking community members to take a pledge to stop practicing unsafe, distracted driving habits such as texting and talking on the phone.  Those who sign up pledge to “just drive” while they are in their vehicle and be free from distractions.  Those who do so receive a free window cling to place in their vehicle window reminding them – as well as others around them – to “just drive” as well. Additional support for the program is provided by McLaughlin Motors – Cadillac, Volvo and Subaru of Moline.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2008, slightly more than almost 20 percent of all crashes in the year involved some type of distraction.  Nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted driver, and more than half a million were injured.

The State of Iowa recently took steps to make distracted driving illegal by banning texting and e-mailing while driving. Illinois has similar laws on the books that discourage texting and only allow hands-free use of cell phones.

“While these laws are a step in the right direction to help prevent crashes, injuries and death, there is more we as a health system can do,” said Trinity President and CEO Rick Seidler.  “Hospitals across the country see the end result of horrific car crashes.  If we can prevent even one serious injury because someone was texting, this program has made a difference.”

Cases involving distracted driving have made headlines lately.  A Mechanicsville, Iowa, teen who died July 5 in a car crash was in the middle of writing a text message when she lost control of her vehicle, according to the Iowa State Patrol.  Celebrity plastic surgeon Frank Ryan was reported to have been “tweeting” when his car went off the side of the Pacific Coast Highway in August, killing him.

“Reports have shown that using a cell phone while driving delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit,” said Dr. Paul Bolger, Trinity’s Director of Emergency Medicine.  “In our emergency rooms we see the effects of what happens when people drink and drive.  This is no different.”

Trinity recently announced the program to its more than 3,300 associates and is now encouraging other area employers to reach out to their workers. 

“Every day thousands of our employees travel to and from their homes to take care of others,” Seidler said. “As a community partner, we think it’s important to take the lead in efforts that get area employees to their destination safely.”

Interested employers may contact Trinity for materials to promote the program within their own business.  Kits include flyers, posters, sample newsletter articles, distracted driving facts and statistics, pledge cards and window clings.

Learn more and take the pledge at www.trinityqc.com/justdrive.