The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Top Stories

April 23, 2013

Joplin event brings attention to dangers of driving while distracted

JOPLIN, Mo. — A sentence the length of this one takes about four seconds to read on a hand-held device.

In that amount of time, an automobile moving at 55 mph travels the length of a football field — including the end zones. That’s more than 300 feet.

It’s the thought of what could happen when the two take place simultaneously that brought tears to the eyes of Lamar resident Tiffany Hayworth and worry to the forefront of her mind.

“I constantly tell my (teenage) son that everything relates to choices both on and off the road,” she said. “All it takes is a split second and it’s over.”

Hayworth on Tuesday had just watched “Gone Too Soon,” a video released this month by the Missouri State Highway Patrol to get the attention of teens as well as adults who may be distracted while driving. The video includes graphic images from Missouri crashes, such as decapitated drivers and bodies with missing limbs.

“It is very difficult to watch in some areas,” said Sgt. Mike Watson of the Highway Patrol, “but it’s all real.”

The video was presented at Con-way Truckload’s Joplin headquarters as part of the National Safety Council’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

A number of efforts are taking place around the country to discourage the use of cellphones and other devices, and to encourage drivers to keep their focus on the road. Groups are using texting-while-driving simulators, like the one AT&T recently brought to Joplin as part of its “It Can Wait” campaign.

And in Colorado, police and family members of Alexander Heit released his final text message as a graphic warning to others.

Heit’s final text cut off in mid-sentence. Before he could send it, police say, the 22-year-old University of Northern Colorado student drifted into oncoming traffic, jerked the steering wheel and went off the road, rolling his car. He died shortly after the April 3 crash.

The text shows that Heit was responding to a friend by typing “Sounds good my man, seeya soon, ill tw” before he crashed.

Con-way’s senior director of human resources, Bert Johnson, said the company’s goal with the local effort is to continually educate and inform drivers in order to prevent future tragedies. More than 40,000 traffic accidents in the state each year are attributed to inattentive or distracted drivers, according to the state patrol’s Watson.

“Each year, law enforcement in the state of Missouri investigates over 140,000 traffic crashes on Missouri roads,” Watson said. “About 30 percent of those are attributed to someone not paying attention.

“Whether they lose focus because they are using their cellphone, eating, talking to someone else in the car, putting on makeup, whether they’re shaving — it’s something that takes their eyes off the roadway. Inattentive driving or not paying attention is the leading cause of all traffic crashes in the state of Missouri.”

Hayworth, who commutes each weekday from Lamar to her job at Con-way, saw firsthand last fall on U.S. Highway 71 what distracted driving can do.

“I have used Star-55 to report distracted driving numerous times,” she said. “I want to come home to my family. One day, the person I was reporting had an accident right in front of me as I was reporting him.”

That driver hit a tractor-trailer in the oncoming lane nearly head-on, Hayworth said.

Text Only
Top Stories
  • r072214soroptimist3.jpg Volunteers spend week providing camp experience to foster youths

    Karen McGlamery is a massage therapist. Terri Falis-Cochran is a finance manager. Jane McCaulley is a retired art teacher. But for a week each summer, the three are among dozens of area residents who become camp counselors.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • 072214 Diamond Llama 1.jpg Llama on the loose tours downtown Diamond

    A lost llama on the lam hoofed it down Main Street here today before it took refuge in a fenced yard that had only one way in and out.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Neosho school board hires company to manage substitutes

    Citing its hopes of shifting health care costs and utilizing more time from retired teachers, the Neosho Board of Education granted a contract Monday to a temporary employee company to manage its substitute teacher program.

    July 22, 2014

  • Disabled Veterans Mem.jpg Memorial honoring injured veterans under way in DC

    Army Lt. Dawn Halfaker was on patrol 10 years ago in Baqubah, Iraq, when a rocket-propelled grenade tore through her military vehicle and exploded inside.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Joplin school board reviews audit procedures

    A team from the Missouri State Auditor’s Office has begun requesting documents in its task to audit the operations and management of the Joplin School District, the audit manager told the Board of Education on Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • Cherokee County Commission accepts general counsel's resignation

    Kevin Cure, who has served as general counsel for the Cherokee County Commission since 2005, submitted a handwritten resignation to the board on Monday in the aftermath of a landfill controversy.

    July 22, 2014

  • Thunderstorms possible overnight in Joplin area

    Thunderstorms are expected to develop across northern Missouri late today and could move south into the area this evening and overnight, according to a hazardous weather outlook issued this afternoon by the National Weather Service.

    July 22, 2014

  • Mideast Iraq_Cast(4).jpg Iraq Christians flee with little more than clothes

    Iraqi Christians who fled the northern city of Mosul rather than convert to Islam by a deadline imposed by extremist militants said they had to leave most of their belongings behind and gunmen stole much of what they did manage to take along.

    July 22, 2014 4 Photos

  • 071514 KC Atkins 3.jpg SLIDESHOW: Treasures of Tut Through Sept. 7, “The Discovery of King Tut” will draw tens of thousands of visitors to Kansas City’s Union Station to discover the history and mystery of the most famous Pharaoh who ever reigned over the Nile Valley.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kevin Cure resigns as counsel for county commission in wake of Galena landfill debate

    In the wake of a Cherokee County landfill controversy, Kevin Cure, who has served as general counsel for the county’s Board of Commissioners since 2005, submitted a hand-written resignation to the board on Monday.

    July 22, 2014