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Reflections: Being Part of a National Distracted Driving Prevention Campaign Launch

Hello everyone, Alan Morales here! Thank you to everyone who tuned in to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) press event on Distracted Driving Awareness Month on April 1st. It's been an honor to not only represent the National Student Leadership Council for SADD, but also the voice of students across the country on the relentless issue of distracted driving. First, I want to give a massive shoutout to NHTSA for inviting me to share my thoughts on such an important issue. Of course, I am also extremely grateful for my friends, family, and Eleanor Roosevelt SADD Chapter members' support and guidance and for serving as role models for this cause. You guys rock!

I was incredibly honored to be presented with this opportunity because, as I'm sure many can relate, SADD isn't just an organization to me—it's a movement with the primary goal of empowering students and adult allies to create a safer world. On the event day, I was excited and proud to meet and speak alongside NHTSA Deputy Administrator Sophie Shulman, Baltimore County Police Chief Robert McCullough, and EndDD President Joel Feldman. NHTSA's headquarters looked as spectacular as I had imagined, and I was warmly greeted by U.S. Government representatives, members of the media, and affected families. The speeches conveyed a sense of urgency, were inspiring, and made a convincing case for the dangers that distracted driving can represent in a split second. The highlight of the event for me was the emotion-filled testimony of a father who lost his daughter to a distracted driver. His words brought to reality what we often hear in passing on the news and think, "it cannot happen to us." Youth have shared with him a new way to reframe the issue. Distracted driving is not merely dangerous, it is also a selfish and disrespectful act.

Let's talk facts, distracted driving is one of the greatest road safety issues we face today. Unfortunately, teens are disproportionately impacted by this issue, as we have less driving experience and more distractions behind the wheel, making us especially vulnerable. And it's not just behind the wheel—distracted walking and biking are serious issues, too, putting us at risk every time we leave our homes.

The good news is we are not backing down from the challenge! SADD and NHTSA are taking actions to combat this issue, including national campaigns working with youth safety leaders on a local level, and increasing our prevention resources to include non-English speaking communities, recently releasing toolkits in Spanish, promoting pledges, publishing new commercials in both English and Spanish and more! At the Eleanor Roosevelt SADD Chapter, we have created campaign graphics in English and Spanish for our local community, hoping to make a difference in our area. We are currently planning an event where students will try to complete a course with a remote-controlled car with different impaired driving simulator goggles, including one that emulates the distraction of a cell phone. The tragic loss of two young lives near our school was a wake-up call, reminding us of the urgency of our mission. We're turning our grief into action and ensuring their memory lives on through our efforts.

So, here's the deal. I'm calling on each one of you to join us in this fight. Whether you're a student, a parent, or a policymaker—your voice matters. From putting your phone away before driving, to advocating for change, we all have a part to play in making our roads safer. Join us in using this new motto provided by NHTSA in your outreach: "Put the Phone Away or Pay," or "Celular guardado, o serás multado." Together, let's work towards a future where our roads are distraction-free and every journey ends safely.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Let's keep pushing forward and making a difference in our communities!


For more information about the SADD + NHTSA Distracted Driving/Walking Among Hispanic Youth Project mentioned above, visit here.

To join the fight against distraction, check out the resources SADD is putting out for Distracted Driving Awareness Month (DDAM) via Instagram. Challenge your peers to a distraction-free activity from TextLess Live More, join the screen time contest, plan a stair climb challenge with Coach Knapp Foundation resources and more!

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