Jacy Good showed Queensbury High School students Monday how to put her hair up in a ponytail with only one hand.
She lost the use of the left side of her body in a car crash in 2008.
“Think about the things that you love to do and then you imagine, can you do it with half of what you’ve got?” Good said. “I can’t run. I can’t ride a bike or throw a baseball around. These are my favorite things that I don’t get anymore, because a phone was more important.”
Juniors and seniors heard Good’s first-hand account of how distracted driving permanently altered her life and her future during an assembly Monday afternoon.
Good and her husband, Steve Johnson, who live in White Plains, shared their personal story as well as a message about distracted driving and their “Hang Up And Drive” campaign.
The couple travels the country giving their presentation and imploring people to stop using their phones while driving.
“People get hurt and people die,” Steve told the students. “It’s not just some government statistic. It’s real life.”
Jacy Good’s parents were driving her home from her college graduation in May of 2008 in Pennsylvania when a high school senior talking hands-free on his cell phone ran a red light, which caused an 18-wheeler to swerve and plow head-on into the Goods’ car.
Good’s parents both died in the crash.
Good, herself, suffered two broken feet, a broken leg, a shattered pelvis, a broken wrist, a broken collarbone, a lacerated liver, partially collapsed lungs, damaged carotid arteries and a traumatic brain injury.
Steve, who had dated Jacy for four years in college, finally saw her after she endured an eight-hour surgery.
“She looked like death,” Steve said. “You would not have thought a person could be alive and look the way that she did. It was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen.”
She had a 10% chance of living through the first night.
She survived a coma, blood clots, infections, rehabilitation, and physical therapy, and she learned to talk and walk. After four months, she was able to go home, but to a home without her parents.
Much of the left side of her body still doesn’t work.
She eventually googled the car crash and learned what happened from news articles. Everything she read mentioned the phone.
“Anything that’s not driving a car is distracted driving,” Good said. “It is a hand off the steering wheel, it is our eyes off the road, it is earbuds in our ears, it is what happened to me, it is our brains off the road.”
Multitasking is not an option when driving a vehicle.
“We need our brains to drive thousands of pounds of metal. We need our brains to talk to someone whom we can’t see,” she said. “We try to do them both at once, our brains hop back and forth. We are really good at tricking ourselves. You might not feel it.”
The brain focuses 40% less on driving when also having a conversation, she said.
“These days it’s not just texting,” Johnson added, “but according to the surveys, it’s all the other things we’re doing on our smartphones all day long. We’re just doing them while we drive. It’s a lot of social media behind the wheel, people are surfing the web, people are writing emails, we’re changing songs on playlists and choosing podcasts, we’re playing with the GPS, we’re taking photos and videos of ourselves and things around us.”
Good was able to spread the word when she appeared on TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress” television show when she picked out her wedding dress.
“There is no mom to help me pick out that wedding dress because of a cell phone,” she said. “There is no last dance with my dad like I always thought I would get because of a cell phone. It hurts every bit as much today.”
For more information, go to www.hangupanddrive.com.