Our family in 2008, before we lost Mariah (middle row far right).
My daughter Mariah lost her life in one of the more than 100,000 texting-related car crashes that happen each year. As parents, we worry about our children from day-one. We take every precaution to try to protect them. Never could I have imagined that three little words would take my daughter’s life. So today, as part of the It Can Wait® Drive 4 Pledges Day on Sept. 19, I ask that you and everyone you know take the pledge to never text and drive. Whether it’s through a tweet or phone call, tell 4 friends to take the pledge and together, we’ll make our roads safer. Take it from me, when it comes to texting and driving… It Can Wait.
At the age of 18, my daughter Mariah was an avid texter. She could hold entire face-to-face conversations while simultaneously texting with friends. The day before her high school graduation, Mariah was texting with a friend as she was driving to watch his Minor League baseball game. As she was sending him a text, she lost control of the car and clipped a bridge. The car flipped and skidded on its roof until it flipped back into oncoming traffic. She suffered massive head trauma and died eight days later. The last text message Mariah received was “Where U At.”
It’s been more than four years since Mariah’s death. No amount of words or tears can begin to express the pain and horror that I, as a parent, endured. To this day it still hurts. But in my grief, I found the will and determination to speak up and help spare other parents and their children from enduring a similar tragedy. In 2009, I joined the It Can Wait movement and AT&T to share my story and educate as many people as possible, with the hope of Mariah’s memory to live on in the lives saved. You can watch more about Mariah’s story in “The Last Text”.
Since joining the campaign, I have had the opportunity to speak at events all across the country. I enjoyed working with the National PTA and its members this summer at the 117th National PTA Convention and Exhibition in Cincinnati. Addressing such a compassionate, committed group of people fills me with hope and shows me that we really can put an end to texting and driving.
The truth is nobody is immune to engaging in this dangerous behavior and the only way to put an end to texting while driving is to raise awareness about the risks and encourage everyone you know to stop. The It Can Wait movement has served as a platform for my voice to be heard – and now it can be yours too. Together, we can make our roads safer from distracted drivers so no other parents or families experience such senseless tragedies. Speak up; your voice can save a life.