Disclaimer – I have a material connection because I received a gift or sample of a product for consideration in preparing to write this content. All opinions stated within are my own.
For anyone following me on Twitter or Facebook, you know by now that I’m in Denver attending the Lifesavers Conference. Lifesavers is the premier national highway safety meeting in the United States dedicated to reducing the tragic toll of deaths and injuries on our nation’s roadways. I, along with several other bloggers, have been invited to attend as a guest of Toyota, one of the top sponsors of the event.
To say it’s been eye-opening is an understatement. The greatest challenge has been deciding what workshops to attend. While I sat in on an incredible session about distracted driving, another was taking place regarding implementing an older driver’s program and another on vehicle manufacturer’s community education and outreach programs.
Along with the programs, the exhibit floor is filled with leaders in the field of driving safety including Nationwide, AAA, The Manufacturer’s Alliance for Child Passenger Safety and MADD to new a few. I’ve seen state-of-the-art new car seats demonstrated and learned about collaborative initiatives to be sure older drivers can gauge their ability to continue to drive.
This morning I’ll be attending a workshop on “Coaching Parents Through Their Teen’s Most Dangerous Driving Years.” I know this is something that, as a parent, is a constant concern for me.
Without a doubt, the highlight of yesterday was the key note address by Karolyn Nunnallee. Karolyn’s 10 year-old daughter was killed in 1988 in the worst drunk-driving crash in U.S. history. The school bus Karolyn’s daughter was on was hit by a drunk driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .24 percent traveling the wrong way on an interstate highway in Kentucky. The resulting fire killed 24 children and three adults, and injured 34 others aboard the bus. At the time, Karolyn believed a school bus was the safest place for her child to be but that wasn’t the case. The deaths were caused by fire inside the bus and the passenger’s inability to escape. Karolyn became a strong advocate for change and worked with government agencies to get higher safety standards for school buses. A protective cage now surrounds all fuel tanks, there is an extra emergency side door, push out windows, an emergency roof hatch, flame retardant seats and mandatory training for bus drivers. And as the President of Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Karolyn helped to get the blood alcohol level reduced to .08.
Karolyn spoke from the heart and her grief is still evident. But, because of this she has helped create safer school buses for our children and safer roadways for all of us. A documentary about the Carrollton Kentucky bus crash is being released on May 15th, the anniversary of the crash. We had the chance to see a scene from the movie and it’s incredibly powerful. You can learn more about it here.