The story Matt Logan tells is heartbreaking.
In a new public-service announcement, he pleads for action to prevent someone else from needing to tell a similar story. Logan’s 17-year-old daughter, Deej, died on the first day of her senior year when she drove into the back of a school bus while texting and driving.
Since then, Logan has been telling her story and pleading with anyone who will listen to consider the ramifications of a practice that, while illegal in Minnesota, is too often commonplace. In the PSA created by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Logan encourages drivers to put down their phones and for passengers to speak up about distracted driving. It’s a lifesaving message.
“Another Deej doesn’t have to die,” he says with the emotion of a grieving father.
The message is needed. Last year, 74 deaths were attributed to distracted driving, a 21 percent increase from the year before. For teens, 22 percent of all crashes were attributed to distracted driving. We need our youngest drivers to understand the dangers involved with the privilege of driving a car.
Too often, those dangers seem distant. The emotion that is obvious in Logan’s one-minute video should help teens, as well as their parents, connect to the dangers. If it doesn’t, look further online. Logan’s story unfortunately is not so uncommon.
Videos are scattered across the internet, featuring similar stories and offering often-stylized ways of reaching the intended audiences. They show how remorse for deadly actions comes too late for change, and they put would-be texters face-to-face with accident victims. They continue to highlight the need for changing habits.
And this isn’t a problem restricted to teens. Nineteen percent of crashes involving senior citizens last year were attributed to distracted or inattentive driving, second only to failing to yield the right of way. Granted, not all distracted drivers are texting, or even using a cellphone. Many are mindlessly adjusting radio knobs, eating a fast-food burger or trying to convince their children to settle down. Anything taking a driver’s eyes of the road for a few seconds can easily end in tragedy.
Whether it’s texting or some other activity, it’s important to hear Logan’s story, as well as the countless others. It’s important to know any of us could become another Deej in a careless blink of an eye. And, none of us wants to be responsible for creating another grieving loved one.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE ROCHESTER POST-BULLETIN