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October 27, 2023
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January 10, 2024

I Never Thought It Would Happen to Me

Robyn Nethnagel Family on Beach

They say that sometimes life can change in a matter of seconds and that's what happened to me. We were visiting Frisco, Texas for a gymnastics meet. I was walking over to the event with my girls to watch their friends compete but I never made it to the competition that night. I also missed my daughter compete the next day all because an 18-year-old girl decided it was more important to look at the text on her phone than to pay attention to the road. Her decision to drive distracted has changed my life forever.

There were no cars in sight when we started crossing the street. When all of a sudden a car emerged from a side street. The next thing I saw was her car just inches from my hip, then I remember hitting the ground, and feeling extreme pain. What I didn't know, until 3 days later was just how close I came to being a death statistic of distracted driving instead of a survivor. It's hard for me to say I was lucky after being hit by a car, but after hearing the facts about the crash, that's the truth. My body was hit by a 3000-pound automobile going 35 mph. The driver told the police she didn't see me until I hit her windshield. I did not step out in front of her; she was looking at a text on her phone and had her head down and did not see 6 of us crossing the street. We were all lucky that nobody else was hit beside me.

My injuries were serious; I had internal bleeding, shattered my tibia (leg) in 8 places and broke my pelvis in 4 places. I was in ICU for 5 days, the hospital for 7 more and then a rehab center for 8 additional days until I was finally able to go home. It's been 8 months since my crash and I am still recovering from my injuries, both emotionally and physically. People continually ask me if I am back to normal yet. My response is "I won't ever have the same normal again but I keep working at it."

I have stopped using my phone in my car at all times and hope that I can encourage others to as well. Until my crash, I admit I used to drive distracted too and ignored the anti-distracted driving messages, but my crash taught me a lesson I will never forget. In just the last few months, I have heard numerous stories similar to mine in Colorado. One death, in a hit and run pedestrian crash, one person that was knocked off his bike in a crash and one person who was rear-ended by a semi-truck and all were caused by distracted driving. We have become victims of the distracted driving epidemic. The crazy thing is I personally know all these people. There are way too many of these tragic and preventable stories and we can all take steps to halt these tragedies by changing our driving behavior.

One thing you can do to help us is to make cell phone use in your car socially unacceptable. Just add the words #BUTNOTWHILEDRIVING to your signature line on your phone and let your friends and family know that distracted driving behavior is not acceptable to you.

I joined the #BUTNOTWHILEDRIVING movement sponsored by We Save Lives and the Mitchel Kiefer Foundation, founded after Mitchel Kiefer was killed by a distracted driver and I am asking you to please join me and many others who want to make distracted driving socially unacceptable.

Take a look at your phone and look at your last text. How important is that text? Is that text really worth a possible major life change? I doubt it so please join the #BUTNOTWHILEDRIVING movement and help us save your life and that of those you love. Thank you.

Robye Nothnagel

Coalition Director, Colorado Drive Safe

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