Dear Friends,Last year was a busy time for We Save Lives and our volunteers. Our ongoing efforts to save lives include legislative advocacy, educating students and others through our speakers' bureau and social media and promoting the Courage to Intervene Promise. We also developed outstanding educational videos and posters on the 3D's and tackled our first distracted driving case in San Diego, California, through our victim advocacy program. The defendant was found guilty. We also moved! We are now in Arlington, Virginia and if you are in the area, stop by the office for a visit.
Thanks to our partners at Y & R, We Save Lives announced a new anti-drunk driving campaign, Reflections from Inside. This video shows the reactions from patrons at a bar bathroom who are faced with the reflections of Kris Caudilla, a convicted drunk driver currently serving 15 years for vehicular manslaughter in a Florida prison. Reflections has been viewed more than 200 million times in every country we can think of and transcribed into numerous languages.
It was featured on NBC news with Lester Holt, Adweek, the Huffington Post, among other press, plus shown on Omelet and other major FB sites. We are proud to say, the impact has been phenomenal! The comments numbered in the thousands and many came from people who drove drunk and said this video made them stop. Others came from victims, survivors, law enforcement and people who had never been affected by the crime but thought it was so powerful they shared it with their friends who drink and drive. It continues to be shown in driver education schools, VIP panels, law enforcement training and high schools.
We continued to support the implementation of pilot 24/7 programs. 24/7 is an evidence-based, innovative criminal justice concept with a non-traditional approach to reducing recidivism in crimes that have a nexus to alcohol or drug abuse for both drunk and drugged driving. A number of states are implementing this program with more to follow. We believe that impaired driving is a multiple-faceted problem that deserves a number of solutions for consideration, such as ignition interlocks, 24/7, swift and sure punishment and more.
WSL has been the leader in advocating for anti-drugged driving legislation especially our white paper on drugged driving to members of Congress, educating them and others about the need to increase our testing, separate DUI alcohol and DUID statute citation numbers, provide additional training for Drug Recognition Experts, and more.
In April I was invited to speak in New York at the Americas Regional Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy on Cannabis Policy, Cannabis Summit in New York City. Our topic was We Save Lives- What to do about DUID? A National Perspective on Drugged Driving Laws. We also showed our video, The Weed Advisor. We encouraged the Cannabis community to work with us and other advocates to discourage driving under the influence of pot.
We supported efforts to toughen the laws on distracted driving in a number of states including Michigan, Arizona, Texas, Florida and Rhode Island. Some of these bills did not pass and we will be back again this year making an even bigger push to get the word out about how dangerous this behavior is and why we should make this a primary offense, increase the fines and implement tougher sanctions. We are never going to make this driving behavior socially unacceptable if we do nothing or give perpetrators a slap on the wrist. Did you know that the number of distracted driving incidents is probably far worse than the statistics report? It is very difficult for law enforcement to catch drivers' texting or even using their cell-phones. Police say it is hard to see someone texting and driving and they can't always prove they were on a cell phone when caught. Unless they see a cell phone they may not have enough probable cause to make a stop. This is one of the reasons why so many people do it, because they can, until they kill someone or themselves. People are also addicted to cell phones. That is why the best solution is to turn the phone off when driving.
Therefore . . .
We Save Lives launched the #Just Drive: Enable Drive Mode Petition to encourage Apple and other mobile device makers to add the word Drive Mode to their devices. This campaign was later supported by NHTSA when they called on device makers to do the same. This campaign was later supported by NHTSA when they called on device makers to do the same. We were joined by anti-distracted driving advocates Elissa Blanken, Jeri Dye Lynch, Jacy Good and a number of other victims and survivors who believe mobile device makers need to do more to stop distracted driving. We were also supported by many of our partners including Safe Roads Alliance, End Distracted Driving and the Conor Lynch Foundation who promoted the petition. We are grateful to Sentinel, a We Save Lives sponsor, who supported this campaign and aided our efforts to get the word out about the dangers of driving distracted.
We also conducted a survey on distracted driving apps in conjunction with the University of Kansas and Dr. Paul Atchley a WSL advisor, which we hope to publish within the next few months.
Our advocacy continues through our social media campaigns, where we reach more than half a million people, our newsletters, speaking engagements, meeting with legislators and encouraging our 3D Lifesavers to take action whenever possible.
Our volunteer speakers outdid themselves this year appearing at high schools, church and community groups and highway safety events, promoting education about the 3D's and the Courage to Intervene Promise. They did this at their own expense and we are grateful for their dedication and belief in the cause..
I, too, have done my fair share of speaking and developed a wonderful relationship with Professor Hitendra Wadhwa - Professor of Practice at Columbia Business School - who teaches the most popular leadership course on campus called "Personal Leadership & Success" offered to MBAs, Executive MBAs, and Executive Education participants from around the world. The course is based on breakthrough research in psychology, neuroscience and other scientific disciplines, and a rigorous study of the inner lives of great leaders.
Apparently, my story is one of the examples they cite when teaching the course. I am honored. I spoke there several times last year and continue to speak this year. I talk about leadership and the joys and perils of beginning again in the age of modern technology. However, the talk always comes around to my soapbox, the 3D's and how the participants can make a difference by just changing the signature on their cell phone. ("Sent from my iPhone but not while driving") Many of them do! I not only get to share my journey as a highway safety activist but I also participate in some of the class exercises. It is a great experience and I am meeting some fantastic people. Please see our Speaker's page to learn how to contact us if you need a speaker for your event.
We continue to advocate to anyone and everyone, especially the media to use the word crash, wreck, collision and in the case of drunk and drugged driving, after the conviction, the word crime. We have had several victories and with our partners in the Crash Coalition, especially Jeff Larason, we launched a campaign directed at AP Stylebook to change their definition of their policy regarding the word accident and we succeeded thanks to all of you who joined in. We are now highlighting egregious use of the word on our website and in our social media asking people to contact the networks directly to encourage them to change their policy. Let's all join in to make 2017 the last year that accident is used when talking about crashes!
We welcomed several new sponsors to our growing list of companies who support our efforts in saving lives and have long been advocates of highway safety issues through their products and their good will. We want to thank Draeger, Sentinel, and Alcolock for helping us spread the word about the dangers of the 3 D's. We also want to thank our ongoing sponsors for continuing their much-needed support, Alere and Driving Test.org. We could not exist without their financial contributions and we are deeply grateful. We Save Lives added a number of new partners in 2016 including NOYS, American Association of Safety Councils, The National Road Safety Foundation, Safe Roads Alliance, Northeast Florida Safety Council, the Milt Olin Foundation, MOMS, SAFE, and more. We Save Lives believe strongly believes that "together everyone achieves more." And you can't achieve too much when it comes to saving lives by joining our efforts.
We also want to express our appreciation to our wonderful and committed Board of Directors and Advisory Board. They are there when we need them and offer more than just advice and guidance on our activities. They even do newsletter editing!
We look forward to another productive year with your continued support and we wish you a happy and safe 2017.