OXFORD – May 18th, 2008 should have been one of the most fulfilling days of Jacy Good's life. Yet an accident occurred that left her with a 10 percent chance of survival and both of her parents dead.
Good is set to speak, with her husband Steve Johnson, at 11:45 a.m. Thursday May 28, at the Oxford Middle School. Their presentation will last approximately one hour, and questions will be answered after. The event is open to the public.
May 18, 2008 was Good’s graduation from Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania. She was on her way home with her mother and father, prepared to begin the next chapter in her life and start her dream career. Everything changed when the family became victims of an accident that resulted in the death of her parents at the scene, and left Good with a slim chance of survival.
“Jacy's entire life was reshaped by an 18 year-old young man that decided that he was able to take a phone call while driving,” said Oxford Police Chief Richard Nolan. “The young man was talking on his cellphone, driving distracted, when he turned left at an intersection where the light was red. A tractor trailer, proceeding through a green light attempted to swerve out of the way to miss the young man, and collided head on with the vehicle that Jacy and her parents were in.”
After months of hospitalization, countless surgeries, and lengthy rehabilitation, Good and her husband have opted to dedicate their lives to speaking out against distracted driving.
Now renowned speakers, Good and Johnson have spoken at more than 500 events spanning 32 states.
Good has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, a guest of Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon at the United Nations, a “Hero Among Us” in People Magazine, a speaker a Maria Shriver’s Women’s Conference, a guest on NPR’s Car Talk, and have been featured in numerous articles, television news pieces and press conferences nationwide. She was profiled by CNN in January of this year.
“Distracted driving continues to be a leading cause of motor vehicle accidents nationwide. In Chenango County alone, distracted drivers are responsible for more than 10 percent of motor vehicle accidents that occur,” said Nolan. “Whether you are texting behind the wheel, applying make-up, or engaging in any other distraction while driving, you are placing your life and the lives of others at great risk.”
Good has followed one of her dreams by having married her long-time boyfriend, who stayed by her side throughout her lengthy recovery.
“She did not have her mother by her side to help pick out her wedding dress,” said Nolan. “Her father was not able to walk her down the aisle.”
Good is still affected by traumatic brain injury that she suffered as a result of the accident.
“All for a phone call,” said Nolan.
“It's not theoretical. It's visual, it's physical, and it's cognitive,” said Nolan. “If your hands are off the wheel, your eyes are off the road, and your mind is off driving – you're not driving, you're driving distracted.”
Nolan added that on average, distractions such as texting behind the wheel cause a driver's eyes to be taken off the road for approximately 5 seconds. Traveling at a rate of 55 mph, Nolan explained that's enough time to travel an entire football field blindfolded. “Think of all of the things that could go wrong in that time,” he said.
District Attorney Joseph McBride said that Good’s story is tragic but one that people need to hear.
“When you listen to her story, hopefully you will never pick up your phone in the car again,” McBride said. “I believe there will not be a dry eye in the house.”
“There's little to gain from driving distracted, but there's much to lose. In the five seconds that you are not focused on driving, your life and the lives of others could be forever changed. In 2013, a total of 424,000 people were injured as a result of the actions taken by distracted drivers and 3,154 were killed. Sending a simple text behind the wheel to your loved ones reminding them that "I'll be home at 7" could ultimately prevent you from ever making it home at all,” said Nolan.
Members of the Oxford Police Department and Chenango County Governor's Traffic Safety Board will be in attendance, including District Attorney Joseph McBride.
Friday, the day following Good’s and Johnson’s presentation, he Oxford Police Department will be available during school hours to allow students to ask questions regarding distracted driving as well as to sign a pledge to not drive while distracted.
Nolan explained that distracted driving is one of the most preventable hazards on the roadways, yet he said more than half of drivers admit to using their cellphones alone while driving.
“If you wouldn’t drive the length of a football field blind, then why drive distracted?” asked Nolan. “The risks are the same. Hang up the phone, we want you to make it home. Placing your phone on mute before you drive or pulling over could save your life and the lives of others. One text could wreck it all.”