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How would you remember your dead child? Many parents whose children have been killed by distracted driving remember their children by creating wristbands in their child’s favorite color.

distracted driving awarenessThere is something sad and heart wrenching about a parent giving away wristbands in their child’s favorite color and with their name and dates of birth and death. “Remember my child because he or she is dead and did not get to live anything near a full life. Remember my child because she is not here to live, laugh, cry, love, experience, create and make a difference through her life. Remember my child because the tragedy of her death would be worse if she was also forgotten. Remembering my child helps me as I try to live without her.”

I wear a pink wristband because my daughter Casey’s favorite color was pink. That wristband has her dates: 1988-2009. Casey was killed by a distracted driver, and so many of our children have died and will continue to die because of distracted driving.

I also wear wristbands to remember other children killed by distracted driving. For three years, I have traveled across the country speaking to teens and adults, at schools, work places, community events and conferences. I meet other parents whose children are dead because of distracted driving and they give me wristbands to remember their children. On my right wrist are those for the girls — lavender for Katie, Green for Toni and R.J., purple for Heather, orange for Chloe and green for Blaine. On my left the boys — lime-green for Conor, blue and white for Paul, gray for Reece, black for Connor and orange for Owen. Grieving parents, living while our children are dead, struggling to make sense of something that defies explanation, wearing wristbands in our children’s favorite colors; that’s what many of us do after our children are killed.

What can we do to keep our children safe? What can we do so that our children live to bury us?

Studies continue to demonstrate that children are influenced by their parents. Children really do listen to what we say. But they also watch us. The vast majority of students who I speak with tell me that their moms and dads regularly drive distracted with them as passengers. We can keep our children safe by not just telling them to drive distraction-free but by also driving distraction-free ourselves.

Be the driver you want your child to be is sound advice.

Watch our 30-second PSA here:

One Comment

  1. Gravatar for Mark Bello

    Joel: Your tireless work to prevent distracted driving as a response to Casey's untimely and premature death is a constant source of inspiration to me. I have 4 children and 6 grandchildren and I hope to never walk even an inch in your shoes. I know that I couldn't fill them anyway. Keep up the good work; I am certain you and your lovely wife have prevented numerous tragedies. Let me know when you are coming to Michigan. Regards, Mark

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