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Distracted Driving: Who is Responsible?

Distracted driving is fast becoming an epidemic. With every driver having a cell phone (that probably does a lot more than text or make calls) and every car coming equipped with on-board GPS and entertainment systems, the ways a driver can be distracted is on the rise. So now the question arises: who should be responsible for the fight against distracted driving? Should cell phone companies install apps that prevent texting or is it the responsibility of auto companies to make sure the in-car technology is keeping everyone on the road safe? The consensus was that everyone needs to chip in at a distracted driving hearing hosted by the National Transportation Safety Board. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 5400 people died in distracted driving crashes in 2009, so it’s obvious that some action needs to be taken.

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Massachusetts Attorney Andrew Garcia Joins the Fight Against Distracted Driving!

We are pleased to announce that Andrew Garcia of Phillips and Garcia, PC has become the newest sponsor of Teens Against Distracted Driving! As an injury attorney, he knows firsthand how dangerous texting and driving can be. Mr. Garcia is going to help spread the world about the dangers of distracted driving throughout the Massachusetts area, helping TADD in our goal to get a bracelet on the wrist of every teenager in America–and their pledge to never text and drive! Welcome to the TADD family, Mr. Garcia!

The New Car Distraction: Tablets and iPads

This is a guest article by Brooke Kerwin, a passionate advocate against distracted driving. 

With the influx of smart phones taking over the population over the last few years, there has certainly been an increased effort to limit the effect that technology can have on driving. In the past year or two, tablets have become the tech product to start to sweep through the market, and along with that success there’s an inevitable safety risk that’s come when they’re being used in an automobile.

The most popular tablet-style device on the market is the iPad from Apple. In the same way that some of their previous products, like the iPhone and iPods before them, the iPads can certainly pose a risk in the automobile. Distracted driving is something that can arise from a number of different things, whether it’s something outside the car or something inside it doesn’t really matter.

Today’s tablet explosion has happened because of their ability to combine a number of different entertainment platforms into one. A number of these entertainment platforms are things that people rely on for car rides, including personal music, checking e-mail, listening to the radio, and even movies or television for passengers riding along. The problem becomes similar to the use of a smart phone in a car. Often time’s drivers can become distracted by trying to tune into an online radio platform, or trying to span through their music in the tablet’s library.

The use of a tablet by a passenger can even end up leading to a case of distracted driving. Someone riding in the passenger seat could be watching a movie or streaming a sporting event, causing the driver to begin taking constant looks down to check on what’s going on. Certainly one of the bigger risks with distracted drivers is constant lapses in attention, which is something tablets in the car can definitely end up causing.

In the end, it’s important to be clear on what’s distracting inside the car. For some drivers, having a tablet in the car for minimal use or letting others in the car may not be that harmless. Regardless over individual effects, there’s no question that as technology continues to develop, there are going to be a litany of new hurdles in the effort to minimize distraction inside the car.

Seattle to Adopt a Youth Traffic Court

If you’re under 18 and get pulled over in Seattle, you might not get a ticket—but that doesn’t mean you won’t pay. Seattle University School of Law has partnered up with Garfield High School to create a new Seattle Youth Traffic Court. Students at Garfield will staff every part of the court, from the judge to the jury and court reporters. The court will only deal with minor traffic infractions (those that do not involve any injuries.) Students will be encouraged to practice “restorative justice;” forming creative solutions to keep students from repeating the same mistakes. If you find yourself in the Seattle Youth Traffic Court in lieu of a ticket you might be sentenced to an essay for your school paper or chores for the person whose property you damaged.

Law students from Seattle University will be coaching the students on their different roles, and all those who appear before the court must serve on a jury there twice in the future (in addition to whatever sentence is handed down to them by the court.) It’s more than allowing those who appear before the court to keep their record clean of rookie mistakes (or save their parents some money on insurance) but also to get everyone involved to think about the larger implications of their actions. When you are in the car, it can be difficult to see how allowing yourself to be distracted by friends or a phone can affect others. With the Youth Court, perhaps the offenders and court members alike will begin to understand the broader affect those dangerous choices can have. Hearing it from an adult is one thing, and let’s face it, they already have. Being able to come to conclusions on your own or collaboratively with your peers creates a much more substantial and long-term effect on behavior.

Sound off below– is this a good idea, or should teenagers just be ticketed like everyone else?

Learn more about the Seattle Youth Traffic Court.

TADD Sponsors Senior Project in Argos, IN

Schools and organizations from all over the country are turning to Teens Against Distracted Driving to help promote distracted driving awareness. Samantha H., a senior at Argos Jr./Sr. High School in Argos, Indiana came to us at the beginning of the year and asked us to sponsor her project which consisted of a whole week of activities centered around reckless driving behaviors. In exchange for sending her 350 bracelets for her class, Samantha wrote an essay about her project and what she was able to accomplish with the help of TADD. Read her essay below…

This year for my senior project topic I chose Reckless Driving, with a focus on distracted driving.  I planned a week’s worth of activities and spirit/dress up activities in our home room class each day for everyone from seventh grade to seniors.  This project was an easy decision for me because of a personal experience I had gone through on the first day of my senior year.  Because of that, I wanted to get the word out to others how important driving really is and why it should not be done carelessly, but with caution.

For the main portion of my project, I organized two powerpoint presentations- one was graphic and very informative to present to the high school, and one not so graphic and better suitable for younger students in the junior high, each to present on Monday during home room.  Following that from Tuesday through Friday, I organized an activity for each day that dealt with reckless driving.

Tuesday’s theme was “Say ‘Peace Out’ to Drugs!” and everyone was to wear their ’60’s attire.  In home room, I provided a questionnaire over my powerpoint presentations to see what everyone learned from it.

Wednesday’s theme was “Put a Cap on Drugs!” and everyone paid one dollar to wear a hat in school that day.  Proceeds are going to be going to the Alex Brown foundation, a young girl who lost her life due to texting and driving.  Her video was shown on the announcements during home room on Wednesday, and everyone got a questionnaire over the video to fill out.

Thursday’s theme was “Drugs Turn You Inside Out!” Everyone wore their clothes inside out, and during home room I provided an essay sheet for everyone to write a paragraph explaining what reckless driving meant to them.

Friday’s theme was “Smarties Don’t Do Drugs!” Students wore their red to support Red Ribbon Week and also my senior project.  People that participated in the dress up activity received smarties.  The activity for home room was to sign a bulletin board pledge I organized about reckless driving.

My sponsor for my senior project, TADD, or teens against distracted driving, had a pledge I honored on my bulletin board, and students had the choice to sign it and agree to put their cell phones down and not touch them while driving.  Over all, the course of the week was so much work, but also very much worth it when we received almost 65% of our high school that signed the pledge to not text and drive.  It was amazing to see some of the answers on the activity sheets over the powerpoint and also Alex Brown’s video of her experience.  My senior project was very successful and I am so happy with all of the end results.  I thank everyone who has helped me with my senior project.  It turned out great!

Watch Samantha’s Presentation:

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Releases New Distracted Driving Report

Thirty-five states in the US have banned texting while driving—but that doesn’t mean people are putting down their phones. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked 6,000 drivers last year about their driving habits, and the vast majority (90%) of respondents said that they would support a rule that banned texting while driving. In spite of this, two in ten drivers admitted to texting or sending emails behind the wheel. Even more concerning is that among younger drivers (aged 20-24), 50% admitted to texting while driving.

It seems most drivers seemed to think that even when they were engaging in distracting behavior, they were still able to drive safely; whether they were texting, putting on make-up or even reading the paper. But over 3,000 people died last year from accidents caused by distracted drivers, and most of those distractions were cell phone related. Ray LaHood, Transportation Secretary, is attempting to pass federal legislation that bans texting while driving and stops senseless deaths. While we can hope that if this legislation passes more people will avoid distractions, safe driving really starts with you.

That is exactly why I started Teens Against Distracted Driving (TADD.) It is up to each of us not only to drive safely, but also to spread awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. There are lots of ways that you can help: you can take our pledge (and get a free bracelet!), you can spread awareness at your school, you can take our survey or you can check out some of these great sites and resources. Texting and driving is an epidemic, but it can be stopped one driver at a time!


Come learn more about the dangers of distracted driving at Tyee High School!

Local teen Marlana Ramirez is hosting a community awareness meeting about distracted driving at her high school. You can expect to find a presentation by TADD founder Jason Epstein as well as a victim of distracted driving and a Washington State Trooper.  So if you find yourself near Tyee High School on December 8th from 6:00-7:45, drop by and raise your awareness!

Marlana’s flyer for the event is below:

See you there!




Are you one of many drivers on the road who catch

people doing something behind the wheel?

Know someone who got into a car crash because

someone was either texting or drunk behind the wheel?

Do you want to stop these common actions and save lives

for the future?

Come to the community awareness meeting hosted by Marlana Ramirez. Presented by Jason Epstein, the Creator of TADD (Teens against Distracted Driving) at Tyee High School in the Cafeteria. Address: 4424 South 188th Street Sea-Tac, WA 98188

What’s there?

  • You will get the basics of what to NOT do behind the wheel
  • Demonstration of the effects of Distracted Driving and a staged accident
  • Diana Jones, a victim of distracted driving here in Washington State
  • State Trooper

Date of Awareness Meeting

December 8th, 2011 from 6:00 PM to 7:45 PM

If you have questions about this please call Marlana Ramirez at 206-605-2093 or email at