Ben Pohl was our speaker today.  More importantly, Fred Pfeifer was our photographer!  Even he can't make Conrad look good, though.  Still, it's better than anything I can do...
 
Today we welcomed Fred Pfeifer and Tom Foss today along with our speaker Ben Pohl.  
 
Ben talked to us about distracted driving.  He's spoken to 14 area Rotary Clubs so far and numerous other service groups and schools.  
 
In 1997, Ben was in a horrific traffic accident.  He was driving with three of his best friends when he became distracted, leading to the crash.  Ben survived, but his three friends were killed.  Ben spent six months in the hospital after the crash and another six months in rehabilitation.  Yet he still suffers some physical effects to this day.  He has trouble with his speech and balance and his right hand shakes when it picks items up.  But that's nothing compared to the mental anguish he lives with everyday knowing his friends died.  
 
Several years ago, after learning how cell phones are contributing to a significant increase in traffic accidents, Ben started talking to schools and service organizations about his story and how to avoid distracted driving.  
Well, how to minimize distracted driving.  It really can't be eliminated completely.  But cell phones are the #2 cause of distraction (other people in the car is #1 - and the cause of Ben's accident).  Ben told us that 25-50% of all accidents involve distracted drivers, though he believes the number is actually much higher.  He told us that simply having a cell phone with you increases your chances of having an accident 4 times.  If you text and drive?  Your chances go up 23 times.  
 
Ben urged us all to take steps to minimize our individual risk by first and foremost, putting our cell phones away while we're driving.  And if we're passengers, we need to be willing to ask the driver to put their phone away too.  

Eventually, not having our phones out while driving will be as commonplace as wearing our seat belts is.  Or not drinking or driving.  

Ben did an excellent job of helping us all move closer towards that goal.  
 

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