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Parents and advocates urge drivers to put down the phone and slow down

Nationally, traffic fatalities hit a 16 year high
Posted at 10:43 PM, May 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 23:43:23-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Melissa Roland doesn't allow her children to play in the front yard without adult supervision. Although the 11-year-old and six-year-old love to be outside, the dangers of distracted and speeding drivers concern Roland.

"My kids don’t play outside in the front yard by themselves. We always have to have somebody out here and we’ve had ... Our house has been hit by a car couple of years ago down this hill here and I don’t think they stopped at the stop sign and just came through and caused quite a bit of damage. Everyone was okay thankfully," Roland said.

It's a concern parents, advocates and cyclists all around the metro share. Tom Everson, Executive Director and Founder of Keep Kids Alive Drive 25 says drivers need to pay more attention.

"A person on a cellular device if they see something they’re trying to stop or slow down, for their reaction time is that of someone .09 under the influence so even though they haven’t taken a drop of alcohol. The fact that they’re focused on their cellular device, that’s one thing that could make us much more alert and safe drivers," said Everson.

Cyclists echo that sentiment. Wednesday, the Bellevue Bicycle Club participated in the National Ride of Silence to honor those who have been injured or killed in a vehicle bike crash. Vice President of the club Mike McGee says too many people are on their phones while operating a vehicle.

"Make sure you share the road. Just because you’re used to driving, driving you have a tendency to get lulled into complacency and we need to make sure that we’re not doing that as drivers. That we’re paying attention. Scanning our surroundings make sure we see what’s there," said McGee. "People need to pay attention when they’re driving. It’s not distraction. The car is a heavy piece of equipment."

Roland says the lack of care is frustrating especially as a parent of young kids. She warns her kids they need to be extra safe.

"Sometimes my oldest rides his bike to school and it makes me nervous sometimes but we’ve definitely told him to watch traffic and look before he goes because people don’t stop or they don’t look, so it makes us more cautious," said Roland.

McGee says cyclists too need to be more aware of their surroundings and wear more bright colors so others can see them.

But, Everson adds drivers need to be aware of the things that happen in neighborhoods like kids playing outside. He urges drivers to think about who else is being impacted when they get behind the wheel.

"Who do you love and who loves you? The answers to those questions should be our reasons to buckle up to slow down to put our cellphones aside and focus on the task at hand," said Everson.