Monday, July 12, 2010

Have you signed Oprah's No Phone Zone Pledge?

Visit Oprah's No Phone Zone website

You can probably tell I don't know a darn thing about art by looking at the sign above. I added text and a clip art picture of two cyclists to a picture of a sign that comes with MS Publisher, but I couldn't figure out how to angle the wording and the cyclists to go with the sign.

But, that's really not a problem because it's the message that counts. 

I did not ask Oprah Winfrey for permission to put this sign up ;-).  Please think of my sign as a way to get others linked to Oprah's No Phone Zone web page.  This is a personal sign for my personal blog.  However, I do wish, the Brain Injury Connection (BIC), the nonprofit I'm affiliated with or I could afford to put up similar signs in all communities.  If I could, I'd start with the top 50 Bike Friendly Cities and the San Francisco Bay Area since that's where I reside.  Of course, I'd get Oprah's blessing and professional advice on the wording and design, too.

Most people probably know Oprah Winfrey and Harpo Studios announced April 30, 2010 as the first National No Phone Zone Day.  Oprah started a campaign to prevent distracted driving while using a cell phone and is encouraging drivers to make their car a No Phone Zone.  Oprah is asking drivers to take the No Phone Zone Pledge and not talk on a cell phone UNLESS they pull over to a safe place and to NEVER, EVER text and drive!

Oprah provided the option of a hands-free apparatus if we MUST use our cell phone, but I believe Oprah would prefer we not use our cell phones at all while driving.

I live in California and our law dictates no messaging while driving and you're only allowed to talk while driving on a hands-free cell phone.  The state of California is contemplating extending the cell phone law to cyclists.  If you don't know the laws in your state, you can find them on Oprah's web site here.

No matter what the law is in your state, please consider doing what is safest while driving and that is to NOT be distracted by a cell phone while driving.  Make your car a No Phone Zone!

I signed the Pledge.  I will NEVER text while driving and I am committed to answering my phone only if I'm expecting a VERY important call and ONLY if I have a hands-free apparatus.  I will pull over to the side of the road to continue my conversation and to initiate any call, if it's important.

I had a traumatic brain injury (TBI) after I went out riding my bike one evening.  Luckily, I got off my bike in the middle of an intersection before I had the loss consciousness over asphalt.  Unfortunately, I didn't use my brain and wear a helmet, but hurt my brain instead.  It cost me more than a helmet; it changed me and my life.

I also know my injury could have been worse.  It makes my stomach queasy thinking about the damage to a body and brain if a cyclist were catapulted from a bike by a vehicle that veers in to the cyclist's path because a driver is distracted while driving.  Considering the average weight of a vehicle and the average weight of a human, the human on the bike will most likely lose the most (their life, or live with physical injuries and/or cognitive deficits for the rest of their life). 

I recall Oprah showing a picture of a young man sitting on a rock at the end of one of her shows and she said he was cycling when he was hit and killed by a motorist on a cell phone.  It's that picture and story that motivated me to write this blog.  That incident is one of several that shook me to the core, especially since I got in to cycling in the past year.  It showed me how vulnerable one is and how quickly someone could lose their life and/or take live(s) by simply being distracted by a cell phone.

The biggest challenge I have cycling is my fear of having another brain injury.  I'm a helmet evangelist now and I always wear a helmet.  Nonetheless, you can have still have a brain injury or even die from hitting your head even if you're wearing a helmet, especially if the vehicle is moving fast, you're thrown high and hit a hard surface (asphalt, car, concrete, etc.).   Bicyclists are no match for a vehicle even with a helmet.  But, let's not forget that less conspicuous falls can result in severe injuries or deaths, too. There is no cure for brain injury -- only prevention -- and not using a cell phone while driving is one way to prevent traumatic brain injuries and senseless deaths.

I saw the following stories on Oprah's show.  They grabbed my attention because someone riding a bike was killed or someone lived and sustained a life altering traumatic brain injury.  Note that both bicyclists could have died from a TBI and that approximately 52,000 people die every year from traumatic brain injurySadly, many of those deaths were preventable.
  1. A Mother's Message About Driving and Cell Phones - A 9 year old on a bicycle and about 15 pedals from her home (the distance is mentioned in the show, titled America's New Deadly Obsession) was hit and killed by a driver in a SUV.  The driver said she was distracted by her cell phone.  A precious life was cut short and a family is left devastated from the loss of their child because of a driver on a cell phone
  2. Former Student Kills Teacher While Texting - A beloved 50 year old husband, father of 3, and teacher was hit and killed by a former student while riding his bicycle home.  The driver was texting while driving and is now serving 5 years in prison. 
  3. A Distracted Driving Survivor Tells Her Story - Jacie just graduated from college and her parents gave her a card that read, "We're both so proud of you, we can die happy."  Sadly, on their way home from the graduation ceremony, Jacie's parents died because of someone on a cell phone.  Jacie was given a 10% chance to live and she did, but now she lives without her parents and with a traumatic brain injuryThe death of her parents and her injuries could have easily been prevented by a driver simply staying off a cell phone. 
  4. Living with the Consequences of Texting and Driving - While texting and driving Bronte hit a tree and sustained a traumatic brain injury leaving her with cognitive deficits. She doesn't want what happened to her to happen to someone else and now it makes her mad when she sees people on their cell phone.
Now, will you sign the No Phone Zone Pledge?

If these stories and the many others on Oprah's No Phone Zone web page don't motivate you to not use a cell phone while driving I don't know what will.  I personally couldn't live with myself if I killed or injured someone because I was distracted by something that could have waited.  If you heard about Oprah's No Phone Zone Campaign, watched these videos and you're still willing to take a chance on driving and texting and not using a hands-free apparatus on your cell phone, you're probably a bit selfish and think about yourself before others.

Do you have a web site or blog?
If so, please consider adding Oprah's NPZ widget to yours.  The widget below is too large for this blog.
The BIC will be adding it to our new (pending) site and I need to figure out how to add it to this blog. I am contacting the Oprah Show and suggesting another widget option – something that looks like a bumper sticker or license plate that links to the web page for the No Phone Zone Campaign

As a brain injury survivor, cyclist and driver, I'm asking everyone who uses a cell phone to take the advice of safety advocates and experts and Oprah and PLEASE DO NOT text and drive and PULL OVER if you need to have a phone conversation, especially if you’re not using a hands-free device. The lives of the people we love (OUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS) and our own (YOU AND ME!) could depend on someone simply not being on a cell phone while driving. 

The Ride 2 Recovery (R2R) Program is introducing many injured military to the world of cycling because it has proved beneficial in recovery and rehabilitation.  Imagine a veteran surviving combat to come home to find joy in the physical and psychological benefits of cycling and ending up killed because someone was selfish and allowed their self to be distracted by a cell phone.

Let’s make cycling safe for all of us.  Spread the word about this campaign to everyone you know who drives, has a cell phone and knows how to text and let's hope people will get it.  I still see lots of people when I'm out riding using cell phones that aren't hands free and some texting.  It definitely makes me nervous and ticks me off.  I think we need to move the cost of the first ticket from $20.00 ($50 for each subsequent offense) to $250.00 and we might see more compliance with the law and maybe more enforcement.  I'd like to think I'd be safer, if people were more motivated not to use their cell phone while driving because they could get caught and it would be very expensive.

In the event of an accident, for peace of mind, and to wear on the R2R, I ordered and now wear a Road ID® so that my medical history is available to emergency medical personnel and my family and medical provider can be notified immediately, if I were seriously injured or killed while out cycling.

Check out the testimonials on the Road ID® web site.  If you’re interested in getting your own Road ID®, the first 20 people who order before August 2nd can get $1.00 off their order using the coupon number:  ThanksDeborah782614.

I will start the blog about my experience with clipless pedals as soon as I can and I'll update you on my training.  Until then, I'll keep TREKkin' and training for the R2R Golden State Challenge.

Matthew and I have raised $830.00 so far, but we both need to raise $3,200 (Total of $6,400 and our goal is $15,000) by October 3rd to have the honor of riding with America's injured veterans from San Francisco to Los Angeles.  Can you help us by making a donation of any size to sponsor Deborah Palmer in the Ride 2 Recovery (R2R) Golden State Challenge?

I'm also working on a blog for the Brain Injury Connection web site where I am commenting on a joint investigative report titled, "Brain Wars" published by National Public Radio and ProPublica.  The report discusses the military's response to medically defined mild traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and the lack of treatment for America's wounded warriors with these injuries.  Writing is more challenging since my brain injury, but I'm hoping to get it finished within the month.

I'm going to close quoting Oprah's last sentence on the show titled, America's New Deadly Obsession:

"Don't tempt fate; that text or call can wait!"


AKA Deborah Palmer

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