FocusDriven: New Crusade Against Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a growing cause of accidents and fatalities on U.S. roads.

ByABC News via logo
January 18, 2010, 9:28 PM

Jan 19, 2010— -- Do you think it's OK to text and drive? Think again.

Distracted driving is becoming an epidemic in the United States. According to a study just released by the National Safety Council, 28 percent of accidents involve talking or texting on cell phones, and studies have found that drivers who use their cell phones for talking or texting have much slower response times than those who do not, and slower reaction times than people with blood alcohol levels of .08.

Elissa Schee's daughter, 13-year-old Frances "Margay" Schee, was killed in a Florida car accident in 2008 when the driver of a tractor trailer hit her school bus. The bus burst into flames, killing the girl, who was the only student left inside.

"She had a smile for everybody. She just radiated goodness," Schee said of her daughter.

Reinaldo Gonzales, the driver of the truck, told police he was distracted by his cell phone.

Since her daughter's death, Schee has spoken out against distracted driving and helped found the organization FocusDriven, which is also sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

FocusDriven is modeled after Mothers Against Drunk Driving and works to raise awareness about cell-free driving as it tries to put human faces on the consequences of distracted driving.

"We're addicted," FocusDriven CEO and co-founder Jennifer Smith said today on "GMA." "We didn't think about how dangerous it could be ... a lot of people think, 'I'm fine.'"

Smith, whose mother was killed in September 2008 by a distracted driver, said, "Our brains just can't handle" texting or talking while driving.

FocusDriven will work to provide "a place for victims and victims' families to join together to put a face to this tragedy," Smith said."These are real families and real lives being taken."

Her hope is that once people realize how dangerous it is, "that's when the laws are going to change and the behaviors are going to change."

CLICK HERE for more information on FocusDriven.