By Jayme Taylor, Communications Manager
“We’re going to have fun.” These are the five words that Ashley Davis-Jones texted to a friend just before her car crossed the center line and crashed head-on into a box truck on Highway 12 near Rochester. Davis-Jones died instantly. She was 22-years-old.
The Feb. 18, 2011, accident rocked Davis-Jones’ family, including her mom Diana Jones and siblings Cheryce and Austin Davis. Austin is a 2011 Lakes High School graduate.
Davis-Jones spoke to students at Alternatives for Individuals (AI) High School on June 14—reliving the horror of that night that she learned her oldest child was dead. She had to take a moment to gather her emotions before she could speak to the group, where she asked students to consider the consequences of texting and distracted driving. She explained how she constantly reminded Ashley—and her other children—to not use her cell phones while driving. Cheryce and Austin now put their phones on “silent” and put them in the glove box or trunk while they’re behind the wheel. It took their sister’s death to make this change.
“Don’t put your parents through this,” Davis-Jones pleaded to the students. “I don’t want this to happen to another family. Texting, listening to the radio and goofing off with friends while driving is just not worth it. It’s not worth your life.”
Washington State Patrol Trooper Guy Gill notified Davis-Jones about Ashley’s death—the sixth time he’s had to tell a family their loved one died from texting while driving. Gill took time to speak to AI students about the dangers of texting—and being distracted in general—while driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the average teenager sends 50 texts per day—an extremely low figure according to the show of hands around the auditorium at AI. Most teens in the room admitted to sending upwards of 200 texts per day, many while driving.
Four seconds is the time it takes to read an average text message. In that time, a car going 45 miles per hour, will cover the length of a football field.
The presentation was brought to AI by teacher Kitti Wheeler, whose son played baseball at Lakes High School with Austin. The presentation was put on by Teens Against Distracted Driving (TADD), a non-profit organization formed by Bellevue attorney Jason Epstein who was fed up with the increasing number of texting-related deaths.
“I have two young children,” said Epstein. “I don’t use my phone at all while driving. If not for your own safety, consider the safety of others before you choose to drive distracted.”
At the end of the presentation, students signed a pledge to completely stop texting and using their phones while driving. They were also encouraged to share the pledge with family and friends.
For more information, visit teensagainstdistracteddriving.com.