Hang Up and Drive

By Hayley Siegle

In just a few weeks, the seniors will be leaving for their internships and with this comes many changes. Not only will the school have about 25% fewer students, but the juniors will become the “big kids” and will finally be given the opportunity to drive to school. Keep in mind that these juniors are all fairly new drivers and with that, the PTSA and the BHHS community want to instill concepts of safe driving within these students. To do so, the PTSA brought in Jacy Good and her husband, Steven Johnson, to BHHS to talk with the juniors.

IMG_3730In 2004, Jacy Good and Steven Johnson met as freshman at Muhlenberg College. It was love at first sight for the two, with about a three-week initial pending period as Jacy tried to fight off Steven’s love. Within three weeks of first meeting one another, Jacy gave in and the two began dating. Fast forward four years to 2008 and the two were preparing for their college graduation. The two lovebirds had their lives planned out. They planned to get engaged, to get married, and to eventually have children together. Unfortunately, however, it was on their graduation day that their lives would be forever changed, and their plan no longer so realistic.

Just hours after receiving their diplomas, Steven and Jacy were driving to their respective family homes—Jacy back to Lancaster, PA, and Steven back to Ardsley, NY. The couple had a longstanding deal, in which they would text each other as soon as they got to their destination, especially if it was after a long trip. Steven texted Jacy when he got home, and oddly, it was hours before Jacy called him. But, it wasn’t Jacy on the other side of the line. It was a doctor from a Pennsylvania hospital.

It was not long before Steven was by Jacy’s side at the hospital. She was hardly recognizable and had been through what seemed like a lifetime of tragic events before reuniting with Steven. After speaking with doctors and Jacy’s brother who had been at the graduation but had taken a different car home, Steven gathered that Jacy had been in a car accident. A really really bad car accident. A car accident that had robbed Jacy and her older brother of their parents, and had a 90% chance of robbing Jacy’s life as well. Emerging from the crash, Jacy had several broken bones, a carotid artery, a partially collapsed lung, a shattered pelvis, and a traumatic brain injury. She was in a coma and only had a 10% chance of living.

After four months of hospitalization, Jacy was finally released. Now, do not be fooled. She was not completely healed and the impact of this accident was not going to suddenly disappear as she left the hospital. After surgeries, tons of medical care, rehabilitation, and laying in comatose for two months, not being able to remember a thing from the moment they had pulled out of the gas station on that graduation afternoon, Jacy knew that her voice could not go unheard.

Now, you may be wondering, how this story has anything to do with hanging up your cell phone while driving. Well, yes, you guessed it. The car accident was caused by an 18-year-old boy who had been talking on his cellphone. Jacy and her parents’ car was struck by a tractor-trailer head-on when the tractor-trailer swerved into their car to avoid a man cruising through the red light at an intersection while talking on his cellphone.

After her remarkable strength and survival, Jacy wasn’t going to let her voice go unheard. She defeated her unfavorable odds of surviving and knew that she was living for a reason. That reason, to advocate for driving without distractions. Since her tragic accident, Jacy and her husband Steven have spoken at over 850 events in 33 states including on The Oprah Winfrey Show and at the United Nations.

Last Thursday, March 22nd, the BHHS juniors heard from Jacy and Steven. The two put on an incredibly moving presentation that truly exposed the dangers of driving with distractions, such as the cellphone. If it isn’t hearing from a survivor herself, what more could convince students to put down the phone while driving? Alan Chang confirmed, “Having a survivor there advocating for change made me realize just how dangerous it is to call and drive, even it is hands-free.”

Jacy and Steven shared their story and, with evidence and statistics, showed students just how dangerous it is to be distracted while driving. One thing the couple shared that shocked many students was that it is just as dangerous to speak Bluetooth or speaker phone or hands free as it is to be holding your phone with one hand, the other one on the steering wheel. It is not the fact that only one hand is on the wheel that makes talking on the phone while driving so dangerous (which don’t get me wrong, is quite dangerous!) but it is the fact that talking on the phone, in general, is such a huge distraction.

While there were a plethora of lessons to take away from this presentation, one that stuck with me personally, was that this could happen to anyone. Anyone can be the individual who is struck by a distracted driver, and unfortunately, we cannot control that. However, we can control whether or not we are the distracted drives. It is up to us to avoid distraction at all costs while driving and to encourage others to do the same.