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Dangers of Distracted Driving
Aired October 31, 2016 - 04:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Whether you`re watching on a TV, in class, on a desktop, a tablet, or on your phone, we welcome you to the
special edition of CNN STUDENT NEWS. I`m Carl Azuz.
Today and tomorrow, we`re taking an in-depth look at the dangers of distractive driving. Timing is no coincidence -- kids in the U.S. are more
likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than on other days of the year. On any day or night, there`s more to pull the driver`s attention off the road
than there has been in decades past.
CNN`s Kelly Wallace shares the personal stories of some people who`ve been directly affected.
KELLY WALLACE, CNN DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT: Think about it, how often when you`re driving do you see people checking their phones? And let`s be
honest, how often do you do it yourself while behind the wheel?
(voice-over): And it`s not just texting, drivers are on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and now, Pokemon Go. You name it, drivers
are checking their phones on roads from cities to rural communities like this one.
Looking at your phone to read one text is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field at 55 miles an hour with your eyes off the road.
One text increases your chances of crashing by at least six times. One text can have deadly consequences.
MATT BOEVE, ANDREA`S HUSBAND: Andrea was a perfect mom. She loved kids, I loved kids. We were going to have more kids. It was the high of life.
We were settled, loving what we did, raising a family and breaking ground on a new home. In a blink of an eye, it was -- our world changed.
WALLACE: On June 30th, 2014, Andrea Boeve took her darling girls, then 11 months and four years old, for a bike ride right near their home in rural
Steen, Minnesota. Her husband, Matt, was doing some dangerous work on the family`s farm.
BOEVE: I had a two-way radio that kept in contact with one of my guys to keep me safe, you know. And all of a sudden over the two-way mom said,
"Matt, where are you?" I could hear in my mom`s voice right away. And she said that Andrea and the girls were in an accident.
DISPATCHER: 911, where`s your emergency?
CALLER: There`s a girl who I think got hit by a car.
WALLACE (on camera): What was that like and you get to the hospital and see Claire?
BOEVE: It was something I`ll never forget because I was told she`s OK. And I came in and she was sedated, and she had breathing tube down her
throat to keep her along from collapsing. And it just -- it was shock. It was complete shock.
So, it was -- it was horrible. No parent should have to go through that.
WALLACE: What do you tell the girls?
BOEVE: For any parent to go to their four-year-old and their 11-month-old and say mommy`s in heaven is something, I don`t know, that`s been the
hardest part, when to say that mom is no longer with us.
WALLACE (voice-over): A driver, Chris Weber, a South Dakota National Guardsman and father of two, admitted he decided to make a payment on his
phone. He says he looked down at his phone and heard a thud. He says he never saw Andrea and the girls.
CHRIS WEBER, DISTRACTED DRIVER: I failed number one because I was on my phone. I was distracted that day.
BOEVE: I just knew he was on his phone. A guy told me that. Even before I got to the scene, I knew it.
And it`s tough. It`s so preventable. I mean, we are addicted to our phones. Anything can happen, and that anything happened to us.
WALLACE: Every day in the United States, more than eight people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured in crashes that are reported to involve
distracted driving according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Distracted driving includes activities such as talking on
a cellphone, texting, and eating.
A recent study found that two out of three teens admit to using apps while driving, and that study was done before Pokemon Go.
To get a sense of what it is like to drive distracted, we headed to the University of Alabama at Birmingham`s distracted driving research lab.
(on camera): My friends are so fun on Facebook, oh, my gosh. And I wanted a friend of mine had this great picture I wanted to show you. So I would
have been in another lane just by looking at friends.
Despina Stavrinos is the lab`s director.
DESPINA STAVRINOS, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM: Many of the times when you are engaging in social media while driving you were
taking your eyes off the road for long glances. Those are those glances over two seconds that significantly increase your crash risk.
WALLACE: Matt`s girls, Claire and Mallory, are now six and three.
(on camera): You must think about it a lot, Matt, because you could have lost all your girls.
BOEVE: It`s so preventable. Yes, a blink of an eye, you think you can take your eye off the road to read a text, check an app. But a split
second took my wife, you know? And almost took my children.
My girls no longer have a mom. I don`t have a wife, a soul mate. It is just something that didn`t need to happen, and it did.
WALLACE: Here`s a dirty little secret. It is not just teens who are checking their phones while driving. We parents are doing it too.
In a recent survey, 56 percent of parents admitted checking their mobile devices while behind the wheel. How can we convince our kids not to do it
if we`re doing it ourselves?
LAURA MAURER, DISTRACTED DRIVER: That`s a horrible, horrible feeling to deal with. And the guilt that comes with it is awful. And it is nothing
that I want anyone to have to go through or experience in any way.
WALLACE (voice-over): Laura Maurer visits the site near Brooklyn, Iowa, where her life changed two years ago. The mother of two and hair salon
owner was driving along Old Highway 6. She pulled over, texted a client whose house she was heading to, and started driving again.
MAURER: I think I had gotten three miles down the road when she texted me back. And it dinged three times. And I don`t think I even read the whole
thing. I kind of skimmed and it set it down. And when I looked up, there he was.
And I slammed on my brakes and I went to swerve. And unfortunately I clipped that tiller, it was falling (ph). And that was it.
WALLACE: A cross marks the place where 75-year-old Marvin Beck of nearby Malcolm, Iowa, was ejected from his tractor.
MAURER: I held him in my arms, you know, and called 911, and his sons ended up coming and took him out of my arms, and I think I called 911 again
at that point. And I was in the police car when we found out that he didn`t make it.
WALLACE (on camera): What was that like? I mean, it is going to be impossibly difficult no matter what.
MAURER: I don`t think there is an hour that goes by that I don`t think about it in some way.
WALLACE (voice-over): Laura received a 30-day jail sentence, although 16 of those days were deferred. She is in the process of completing 200 hours
of community service, sharing her story and warning others of the dangers of using a phone while behind the wheel.
MAURER: Even if I can save one kid from not doing it or one person, I think at least that is a little bit of comfort. Open people`s eyes and
make them realize we need to change the way we`re driving.
WALLACE: Especially when you think about how many people, including parents, text or post on social media while driving.
STAVRINOS: We`re finding estimates before half of all parents say they drive distracted. So, that`s not really helping for where we`re trying to
get in terms of shifting the societal norms. If mom and dad are doing it, then, hey, it must be OK.
WALLACE: Sometimes the kids are the ones telling their parents to stop.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My mom is a big Facebooker. So, every single second, she`s always on her phone texting. And I always tell her, mom, your kids
are in the car. It is one thing if it is just you. But like, my little sister is with us. Can you just stop for maybe a couple minutes?
MAURER: It is amazing how many people will say, I don`t think there`s one person who hasn`t been in a car with somebody who has been distracted at
one point or another in their life.
WALLACE (on camera): If you can give any message to the Beck family, if they could hear any message for you?
MAURER: I`m just so sorry. There is nothing I would ever -- I mean, I understand. I can`t imagine. I`ve lost people in my life and I`m just
sorry. I can`t -- that`s the hardest part to live with is that I took somebody`s father and somebody`s husband and somebody`s grandfather, you