Inspired by one texting tragedy, Lake Washington students fight back as another strikes

February 25, 2011


by Mark Horner
Everything seemed to be lining-up perfectly for three Lake Washington High School students as they prepared to share their new knowledge about the dangers of texting while driving. The three seniors began their research in early January by studying eye-opening statistics about TWD.  They had grown to feel  emotionally connected to Wendy Lerch, the mother of a 19-year-old woman killed in a texting crash south of Olympia last year.  Mrs. Lerch had responded to the students’ e-mails and she had answered their questions.

This week marked the first anniversary of Heather Lerch’s death.  And her crumpled car was on display Tuesday, Wednesday and today at Lake Washington High. Seniors Shannon Bebee, Taylor LaFave and Kaylin Wilson had worked hard to make it so. This was the culmination of their project.

But on February 18, another young woman died  texting while driving in Heather’s hometown.  Police say 22-year-old Ashley R. Jones-Davis crossed the center line and struck an oncoming truck.  The driver of the truck was not injured.

Rochester, Washington rests on a little more than 2 square miles of land. Yet the town of less than 2,000 people is connected to two TWD fatalities in just short of a year.

No, things didn’t line-up quite perfectly for the Lake Washington project. But the very recent loss of Ashley’s life heightened the students’ sense of urgency for sharing their new message:  Don’t let an LOL become an OMG.

Reggie’s story: 10-minutes that could save a life

August 26, 2010

by Mark Horner

What if you were told that 10-minutes of your time could save a life? And–just maybe–your own life. Or your kid’s. Or your dad’s. Yes, mom’s life, too.

10-minutes free of labor.
10-minutes devoid of any request for a single penny.
10-minutes simply spent sitting…and watching.

Okay—if you’ve peeked at the tags on this post—your hunch is correct. This is a video about texting while driving.

Maybe you already feel bombarded by the anti “TWD” campaigns. But you’ve probably never seen a video quite like this one. It’ll strip-away any lurking numbness from the topic.

This is Reggie Shaw’s story. And the story of the people he killed. And their families.

10-minutes. Not a second wasted.

Please watch, and perhaps, another life won’t be wasted.

Driving Skills for Life brings out hundreds of teens

August 19, 2010

A safe driving event in Auburn brought more than 200 teens and their parents out for the day to learn advanced vehicle handling skills from instructors from across the nation.

The National Governor’s Highway Safety Association and Ford Motor Company brought their touring event to Western Washington this week.

Director of Licensing Liz Luce welcomed the students and parents to the half-day event and took a spin on the driving course as well. Luce said that as a mother and grandmother, traffic safety and top-notch driver education is one of her top priorities for the agency.

Along with DOL, the State Patrol and Washington Traffic Safety Commission partnered with the event.

May is motorcycle safety month

May 11, 2010

motorcycle safety transit ad

By Tony Sermonti

A 22-year-old man was killed last week in King County after speeding, reckless driving and doing wheelies on his motorcycle. The man was ejected from his bike and died instantly after hitting a tree.

That collision underscores why May is motorcycle safety awareness month. Last year, 62 motorcycle riders lost their lives on Washington roads, and DOL is working with other traffic safety agencies to reduce that number to zero by 2030. DOL unveiled a motorcycle safety awareness campaign last week using transit ads, billboards and postcards to communicate with millions of drivers and about 27,000 unendorsed motorcycle owners.

Riders can be difficult to see on busy roads because of their smaller size and profile. Motorists should take an extra second to be aware of what’s around them. An extra look could save a life.

Motorcyclists have their own responsibilities – they share the same rules and responsibilities of the road. The top three rider-causes of motorcycle crashes are alcohol or drug impairment, improper lane position and speeding. To legally operate a motorcycle on Washington roads, riders must have a driver license endorsement – or they could see their bike impounded even after a simple traffic stop.

For more information about motorcycle safety training and motorcycle endorsements, go to the agency website at, or call the Washington Motorcycle Safety Program at 800-962-9010. The safety awareness campaign is funded with federal traffic safety grant funding through a partnership with the state Traffic Safety Commission.

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 for more information on the dangers of distracted driving.