US Transportation Secretary showcases DOL video in effort to combat distracted driving

July 12, 2011

by Mark Horner

When the Department of Licensing produced a video about a 19-year-old Thurston County woman killed in a distracted driving crash, many of you took notice.  Now, the nation’s top transportation official has noticed, too.

This week,  US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood added our video about Heather Lerch to the US DOT’s Faces of Distraction website.  Lerch died instantly after her car left the road on February 23, 2010. 

Only a few weeks after their daughter’s death, Dan and Wendy Lerch shared their story with us on-camera, hoping to convince others not to text and drive. They said that they have no doubt that Heather had been texting behind the wheel when she crashed.

 On his blog this week, LaHood writes:

“Recording this video was obviously very painful for Dan and Wendy, and I can’t thank them enough. I hope that everyone who hears their story will remember to keep their eyes on the road, their hands on the wheel, and their focus on driving.”

 
Since the DOL first published the video on its YouTube channel in April of 2010, Heather’s mangled car has been on display at many public places, to include several high schools.

The DOL produced two versions of Heather’s story; a 30-second Public Service Announcement, and a longer video that runs about five-and-a-half  minutes. The US DOT is showcasing the longer video.

Last year, the DOL and State Patrol also featured Heather’s story  in their efforts to inform the public about a new state law that makes the illegal use of a cell phone while driving a primary offense.


Car in texting fatal crash on display at state capitol

May 5, 2010

by Mark Horner

“I’m getting chills as I read this.”

Those words this morning from one passerby as she paused to look at a mangled car and read the story on a nearby poster.

The car was driven by 19-year-old Heather Lerch earlier this year.  Her parents say Heather was texting when the vehicle left the road and struck a guardrail, killing the young woman instantly.  The February 23rd crash unfolded shortly before 10:30pm on Littlerock Road in Thurston County.

The vehicle is one of numerous displays on the plaza of the Capitol Campus in Olympia today where Public Service Recognition Week is being recognized.

The Department of Licensing recently produced two videos about Heather’s story.  A new state law concerning cell phones takes effect June 10.  The law makes texting while driving a primary offense.  It also makes using a hand-held cell for phone calls while driving a primary offense.


Friday’s distracted driving news conference

May 3, 2010

Licensing director Liz Luce speaks to reporters about using cell phones while driving on Friday, April 30 in Parkland, Wash.

Go to http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/distracteddriving.html for more information on the dangers of distracted driving.


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