In case you weren’t aware of Boise State University’s Campus Read book for the 2015-2016 school year, the book chosen was Matt Richtel’s A Deadly Wandering. This book tells the real life story about Reggie Shaw’s 2006 car accident where he killed two people because he was distracted by a text message while driving. This accident was one of the first documented cases of fatalities caused by texting and driving. On Thursday, March 10th, Reggie Shaw came to Boise State’s campus and gave a presentation on his experience.
Shaw’s presentation and message was powerful. It’s been ten years since this accident and everyday he still thinks about what he caused and whose families he’s affected. Two men died that day in an accident that Shaw pointed out was completely preventable. Both men had families they never came back to. When one of the men’s daughters finally had the chance to face Shaw in court, she told him that she would never be able to have her dad walk her down the aisle at her wedding because he had taken that away from her. Her and her father had been talking about her wedding the night before; talking about plans they had for her big day, but now he wouldn’t be there to see it.
In case you haven’t been able to read the book, Shaw was sentenced to 30 days in jail and 200 hours of community service. For his community service, Shaw had to present to youths and schools to spread awareness of the dangers of distracted driving from texting. As Shaw commented in his presentation at BSU, the judge told him he was not doing this as a hero, but a criminal. This really affected Shaw at the time of his sentencing, but as he looks back on that day, he knows the judge was right.
This accident happened in 2006, ten years ago, and Shaw still struggles with the fact that he killed two people in an accident that was preventable. The daughter that faced him during court found forgiveness for Shaw and they were able to connect and become friends, but even Shaw doesn’t feel like he will ever fully be able to forgive himself for what he’s done.
Since then, Shaw has become an advocate for prohibiting cellphone use in the car. In 2006, there was only texting and calling. Today, there’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tinder, Tumblr, and so many other forms of social media that are causing distractions for drivers. Shaw even pointed out how talking on the phone (with a wireless connection) could be dangerous because you think you’re paying attention to the road, but you really aren’t. To prove his point, he asked us all to think back on a time where we have been driving down a road we’ve driven on hundreds of times but miss the exit or the turn. This thought seemed somewhat terrifying simply because that’s happened to my mom and I just by being in an involved conversation while we were in the same car.
Being distracted while driving is no laughing matter. Countless people have died from preventable accidents where people have simply been distracted. While talking on the phone with Bluetooth or another wireless device is completely legal, be careful as you talk. Always watch and pay attention to the road and what you’re doing, and stay off your phone as much as possible. As Shaw told his audience, you don’t want to end up like him.
If you still aren’t convinced how bad it is to text and drive, watch this.