Many times a sad incident in life can have a positive consequence. That is certainly true of the tragic death of the Washington Township, NJ, teen Nikki Kellenyi last year. She was killed because she was a passenger in a car driven by another teen.
Although the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office determined that it was inconclusive whether the driver had been texting or talking on a cell phone when the fatal accident occurred, that was the belief of her father and the surrounding community.
Nikki's father Mike Kellenyi has gone on to found People Against Distracted Driving (PADD) in memory of his daughter and in an attempt to not only raise awareness on distracted driving, but to help the families touched by tragedy as a result of this practice. The organization has done things such as
- Partner with New Jersey Motorsports Park to hold races each week featuring signs, flyers, and information about PADD
- Partner with the brain injury alliance of New Jersey in its Champion of Schools Project in which NJ high schools promote distracted driving awareness
- Putting Nikki's senior portrait and PADD information on a dozen tractors crossing the country daily
But this effort has gone way beyond New Jersey, as PADD has reached across the country
- Offering financial support to families in any state that have been impacted by distracted driving
- Presenting the "Fall Brawl" at the Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis last month, with over 124 cars attending
- Petitioning the IRS to register chapters in every state
As distracted driving continues to rise to rival drunk driving as the cause of deaths and injuries, the work of this organization becomes more and more important.
In fact, on August 13, 2013, Governor Christie signed "Nikki's Law," which requires the New Jersey transportation department to erect signs on state roadways warning of the dangers of distracted driving and reminding drivers that texting while driving carries stiff criminal penalties in New Jersey. What a wonderful way to honor the memory of a young woman who died so needlessly.
If you are looking for more information about People Against Distracted Driving, be sure and visit their web site.
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