HOSA E-magazine Spring 2015 - page 9

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Violators would be cited and fined $25 for the first offense, $50 for the second and $75 for
the third and every subsequent violation. The citations would count as a two-point violation
on a motorist’s driving record.
The definition of distracted driving in the bill could be tweaked further to accommodate the
use of hands-free technologies currently in some vehicles, Harper said.
The bill has had its first reading in the House, and Harper said he hopes to have the
bill taken up by the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee when the
Legislature reconvenes Tuesday.
The three women’s former teacher, Natalie Lavender, who helped them with the campaign,
said she sees parallels between the campaign to stop distracted driving and the earlier fight
to outlaw drunken driving. She is also impressed by her former students’ commitment to the
issue.
“It’s pretty impressive to me at that time they were 17 to 18 years old. Now they are 19, but
they won’t let it die,” said Lavender, a nurse and the health science instructor at the Pickens
County Career Center and a resident of Aliceville.
The three began researching accident statistics in the state as they prepared the project to
increase awareness about the link between accidents and distracted driving.
They started by focusing on texting but soon broadened their scope to distracted driving
after learning through conversations with local and state law enforcement that the state’s
ban on texting while driving was difficult to enforce and just one piece of a larger issue. The
project became an effort to define distracted driving.
The three teens partnered with the Pickens County judicial system and state troopers for
Fatal Decision, an event which recreated the circumstances of a fatal accident caused by
distracted driving for junior and senior high school students in the county. They also traveled
to Montgomery to meet with Secretary of Law Enforcement Spencer Collier and pitch the
idea of a cautionary video message to be shown to teens applying for learner’s permits.
They also are pursuing a decal that could be placed on the rear window of vehicles as a
way to alert other motorists new drivers are on the road with them, Lavender said. The
hope is the more experienced motorists will give the new drivers more space and be less
impatient.
In the meeting with Collier, the idea of a new bill was broached. The three approached
Harper about being the bill’s sponsor. Harper said he hopes the young women will be able
to present their project to the state’s lawmakers as they consider the bill.
As Lavender assisted the teens in working on the project, she came to reflect upon
distracted driving’s indelible mark in her life.
Lavender’s son, Bryant, died in a 1999 traffic accident. He was 19 at the
time.
“We don’t know what happened other than the person he collided with
said he was looking away when he was hit,” Lavender said.
Following the meeting with Collier, the conversation between the teens
turned to naming the bill, one of the perks of being the advocates behind
a piece of legislation.
The teens decided to name it Bryant’s Law after Lavender’s son in
recognition of their teacher’s help and to honor her family, Manning said.
“We are just one family in many that are being affected by this,” Lavender
said.
“The last thing
I remember was
(the driver) was
fiddling with her
phone. We came
to a stop sign,
but she didn’t
make a complete
stop. I remember
the 18-wheeler
coming at us, and
it t-boned us on
my side,” Sanders
said.
Morgan Sanders
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