Take the pledge, change your driving habits

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Lisa Sulka

Distracted driving has caused an ever-increasing number of losses of families and friends, and it is time to take control and change our driving habits.

Personally, I have lost loved ones who would be here today if they had made better decisions before getting behind the wheel. I would guess that all of you know of someone who drives distracted or has been a victim of a distracted driver.

Aren't you ready to be part of a united effort to recognize and eliminate preventable deaths from distracted driving?

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and also the beginning of our town's campaign to bring awareness to this horrible epidemic and try to put an end to accidents caused by distracted driving. We have partnered with the Lutzie43 Foundation, which focuses on safer driving.

We began the campaign by hosting the organization's founder, Mike Lutzenkirchen, who spoke with students at Bluffton and May River high schools, as well as students and the public at USCB.

Mike is such a dynamic speaker, and it truly comes from the heart, as he doesn't want anyone to go through the pain of losing a family member like he has. Many students videoed his talk, as did the Town of Bluffton, so please find this on social media and spread the word.

So what is the Lutzie43 Foundation? I would ask you to visit lutzie43.org. This foundation began in 2014 after Auburn student-athlete Philip Lutzenkirchen, Mike's son, lost his life at age 23 in a drunk and distracted driving related accident. The mission of the foundation is to encourage and empower young people to be positive ambassadors for safe driving through character development and mentorship.

I believe after you visit the website, you will see what a perfect fit this foundation is for our town, and I hope you will get behind this initiative and push our state's elected officials to pass a Hands Free Law in South Carolina.

What can you do to get involved and support the 43 Key Seconds Initiative? Go to the website above, and sign the pledge. I challenge you to stop driving distracted for the next 30 days. And then continue your new habit.

I have signed the pledge, along with thousands of other Blufftonians, and I will take the time - 43 seconds - to prioritize safety behind the wheel.

I want to thank the Bluffton Sun for partnering in this endeavor, and would invite any other partners that want to help us.

Here are a few statistics about distracted and impaired driving:

• Eleven people are killed each day as a result of distracted driving.

• If you take your eyes off the road for more than two seconds, your crash risk increases.

• More than 10,000 people die each year due to drunk driving crashes.

• The amount of time it takes to read a text is about 4.5 seconds.

• At 55 mph, reading a text while driving is like driving the length of a football field blindfolded.

• Use of cell phones in cars is now estimated to be involved in 26% of all motor vehicle crashes

Lisa Sulka is the mayor of the Town of Bluffton.

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