Can you believe that each day in the United States, over 11 people are killed and 1,161 are injured in car crashes that involve a distracted driver? Have you heard the crazy statistic that the odds of crashing increase 23x when texting while driving? These odds are comparable to drunk driving! Add to the fact that 95% of us admit to having used our cellphone while driving at some point and you have an endless supply of tragic tales of lives damaged or cut short. There is also the AAA statistic saying that 97% of all crashes are driver error, 3% are because of a malfunction of the automobile. Distracted driving crashes are already up 14% from the last two years – this is definitely a growing problem.
My distracted driving crash was my personal game/life changer. I was not distracted by a cell phone but rather from joking and laughing with 4 occupants in my car. My tragedy opened my eyes to life distractions as well as in the car. What am I doing in life? It put me on a journey to raise awareness about all kinds of distractions. Almost everyone has experienced some kind of life changing event…an event that opens your eyes and makes you think about your own life. Life is an immensely interesting thing to navigate. Focus is essential – keeping your eye on the prize. Questions arise such as what makes you happy, what are your goals and how are you going to get there… my primary story revolves around distracted driving, but that is only one of many 😉
I am working hard to reach out in my area and speak with as many schools / students as possible. The value of preventing possible injury / death is so great – the only issue I am running into is how to fund all of my travel to schools and time (usually all day). I do not charge schools to speak to their students. For this reason, I set up a GoFundMe page where I can collect small donations to help drive my cause.
My distracted driving story: My name is Ben Pohl and I am guilty of being a “distracted driver”. I paid a great penalty for doing that. My penalty was relearning how to walk and speak at a young age and spending the rest of my life wondering why this happened to me. In my crash, I was a 17 year old high school senior driving on his way to a party with 4 of my best friends. I wasn’t using a cellphone, but I was definitely distracted. Distractions come in all shapes and sizes – mine were the radio and laughing with my friends – not paying attention to the road. That inattention caused me to take my eyes off the road and lose control on my car. Take a moment to watch some of my videos below that will give you a more robust story. It was a horrific crash. I essentially came back from the dead – the ER doctors were sure I would not make it through the night. I am now older and have made it my mission to make sure that people are aware of the risk and consequences so that they don’t end up like I did or worse. Distractions are not just part of driving – they encircle life and if allowed into our lives, ensure we end up places that we don’t want to be…I focus on my own life and how distracted driving changed my life.
My short video story…
Since my accident I have had quite the journey. My first goals were obvious – to get back on my feet. First, I had to relearn to eat and walk, and after 6 months of painful rehabilitation, I was able to leave the hospital in a wheelchair. I was determined to take my life back. I went on to get a university education in Recreational Therapy where I found my first real job in a maximum security prison rehabilitating sex offenders. After that adventure, I went back to school again to see if I could learn to do more by obtaining a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. I wanted to see and fix the world. With that goal in mind, I began working in Iraq as a government reconstruction consultant – helping rebuild the Iraqi government. After my work ended, I came home and was sent right back to the Middle East (Jordan) with the US Peace Corps. I was slowly getting burned out and came back home to focus my efforts domestically. I think often about my rich education and ask myself if I am happy. I came to the realization that education, although very valuable, led me down a career path that did not make me happy. I decided to stop doing what everyone else wanted and finally do what makes me happy. When I tell people what I do now – they simply shake their head and smile.
If you’d like me to share my life distractions / experiences with you, your place of work, your school, friends or family or a group you are involved in, please just get in touch with me … I customize each presentation in order to ensure that my message is internalized.
GOFUNDME PAGE: https://www.gofundme.com/benpohlspeaks
CONTACT EMAIL : email@example.com
Thank you note from one of the high school students…
“I have heard Ben Pohl’s own story concerning “Distracted Driving” and the consequences for such driving. Ben presented his own story at a recent meeting of the Oak Brook Rotary Club. I can attest that Ben’s experience is a compelling one. I would recommend Ben Pohl to schools, Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, and other such service & civic groups because his message is a vital one. It should make one sit up straight and take a personal inventory of one’s own driving routine and habits! So, stay SAFE, not sorry!”
Darian Rotary Club, Algonquin Rotary Club, Lakeview Rotary Club, Geneva Rotary Club, Deerfield Rotary Club, Silver Fox Club of St. Charles, Northbrook Rotary Club, St. Charles – Breakfast Rotary Club, Wheaton -Warrenville South, Rotary Youth Conference, Glenbard East High School, Naperville Lions Club, Barrington High School, North English High School (Iowa), Metea Valley High School, Des Plaines Rotary Club, Aurora Rotary Club, Barrington Noon Rotary Club, Cosmopolitan Rotary Club of Chicago and Elk Grove Lions Club.
Ameren Energy Company, West Liberty Middle School, West Chicago Junior High, Carol Stream Rotary Club, West Liberty Rotary Club, Woodridge Rotary Club, Bartlett Rotary Club, Roselle/Bloomingdale Rotary Club, Wheaton North High School (1000+ students), Lisle Rotary Club, Downer’s Grove Rotary Club, Batavia Rotary Club, Rotary Club of Chicago / OHare, Elk Grove Rotary Club, Schaumburg / Hoffman Estates Rotary Club, Elgin Rotary Club, Oakbrook Rotary Club, St. Charles Noon Rotary Club, South Elgin High School, Rotary Club of Glenview – Sunrise, Rotary Club of Mt. Prospect, Lake Park High School, Lombard Rotary Club, Wheeling Rotary Club, Glen Ellyn Rotary Club, Wheaton Rotary Club, Westmont Rotary Club, Arlington Heights Rotary Club, La Grange Rotary Club, Western Springs Rotary Club, Villa Park Rotary Club, Skokie Valley Rotary Club, Burr Ridge / Willowbrook Chamber of Commerce, UPS Safety Conference, Buffalo Grove Rotary Club – The LOUDEST Rotary Club, Palatine Rotary Club, RotaryONE Chicago, FUSE Youth Group (3/27/17)
Ameren Power Company