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Personal tragedy challenges CVA students to end distracted driving

photo of woman speaking at a podium

Jacy Good asks CVA students and faculty to hang up their phones when they drive.

On Monday, Oct. 14, Jacy Good shared her story with all of Central Valley Academy’s students and staff—her promising life took a tragic turn when two distracted drivers made poor choices behind the wheel.

In May 2008, Jacy had just graduated magna cum laude from Muhlenberg College in southeastern Pennsylvania. She and her parents had packed up her room and were headed home after the commencement ceremonies. About an hour into their trip, an 18-year-old boy ran a red light while talking on his cell phone. He was struck by a milk tanker, which then swerved into the oncoming lane, crashing into the Good’s car, critically injuring Jacy and killing her parents.

A series of strangely fortunate events saved her life. A man with medical training heard the crash, rushed to the site and stabilized her. An ambulance stationed nearby arrived in minutes. She was just 13 miles from the region’s only trauma center where skilled doctors performed 8 ½ hours of surgery to repair crushed bones and lacerated organs and to stabilize her brain trauma.

Given just a 10 percent chance to live, Jacy defied the odds. She struggled to learn to again walk, speak and read. She emerged from the hospital four and a half months later to continue her rehabilitation. Today, without full use of her right arm and lower right leg and with minor cognitive disabilities, she travels the country telling her story in hopes of alerting people to the dangers of distracted driving.

Her visit to CVA was made possible thanks to Scott Grates State Farm Insurance and Remington Federal Credit Union. Remington paid Jacy’s speaking fees and travel expenses. Mr. Grates made the arrangements and provided each student with a wrist band, ring and ID holder as a reminder of her visit.

Not just about texting

Ask people to name dangerous driving behaviors and most list texting while driving and driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol.

Jacy warns the dangers are much subtler.

She cited research that shows talking on a cell phone—even a hands-free phone—forces the brain to redirect part of its attention away from driving. Studies show that conversing drivers are unable to focus on the entire road ahead and instead concentrate on only their lane. That moment where the mind wanders in conversation or the driver glances down at the phone is the moment that a deer can dart across the street or a school bus stops to make a turn.

She noted that although the young man who caused the accident had his phone on speaker, he missed seeing the red light at the intersection. Even the driver of the tractor trailer had been distracted in his thoughts because he turned into oncoming traffic instead of braking and turning away.

The ripple effect

A single pebble dropped in a pool produces ripples that spread far from that pebble. That same ripple effect is seen when someone dies in a tragic accident.

Jacy’s accident directly touched her and her brother. It spread to touch uncles and aunts and cousins. It spread to her mother’s school where she had taught eighth grade. It spread the Jacy’s college classmates and the college faculty.

The more her story spreads, the more people it reaches—and hopefully changes.

“I tell you this story to put you in my ripple,” she said.

She told students that driving was the most dangerous thing they do. She encouraged drivers to make the smart choice by turning off their cell phones or passing phones to passenger.

“We set the standard with drunk driving. We need to get there with cell phones,” she said.

Learn more about Jacy Good, her story and her campaign to make the roads safer at www.hangupanddrive.com

photo of video playing on a screen

In a recorded video, Jacy’s husband Steve Johnson describes the accident from his perspective.