Asheville, NC-- Hours after burying his daughter, Amos Johnson was already thinking about ways to keep other parents from feeling his pain. Johnson shared his story and message with the Asheville Citizen Times.
Ashley Johnson, 16, of Arden, died Tuesday, a day after her car swerved in front of a pickup truck on Long Shoals Road. Police said she appeared to have been retrieving a text message from her cell phone seconds before the impact.
The pickup driver was treated for minor injuries and released from the hospital. No charges were filed.
"Some organization needs to take the car around to schools," Johnson said Saturday, a day after his daughter's funeral at Words of Life Tabernacle on Glen Bridge Road. "Parents and everybody needs to know, that it's not a good idea to text - or talk on a cell phone for that matter - and drive."
Johnson said he was thinking about taking photos of the car himself to schools.
His reaction is a common one among parents and others who have lost loved ones in texting-related accidents. Survivors turn toward advocacy as a way to cope with feelings of loss and sometimes guilt, said Jennifer Smith, of Grapevine, Texas.
Smith started an advocacy group, FocusDriven, after a texting young driver in July ran a red light and crushed the car of her mother, Linda Doyle, of Oklahoma City, killing her.
FocusDriven is made up of those who have lost loved ones in car accidents - some because they were texting and some because they were hit by texting drivers.
"Mostly what they say is, 'I just have to stop this from happening to someone else. We have got to get the word out to people and let them know how dangerous this is and that it's not worth it,'" Smith said.
The group tries to get lawmakers to pass rules against use of cell phones behind the wheel and to educate drivers about the danger. In 2008, the National Safety Council estimated up to 1.6 million crashes involved drivers distracted by phones, Smith said.
Driving while texting was suspected in at least one fatal crash in WNC after six people died in a Brevard accident last year.
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WFMY News 2 is inviting everyone to take the pledge of not using your cell phone while driving. Click on WFMY to go the home page and check out the Great Hang Up campaign.
Asheville Citizen-Times/WFMY News 2