LYNN HAVEN, Fla. (WMBB) — Due to the pandemic, the National Safety Council postponed the observance of Distracted Driver Awareness month from April to October 2020.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2018 2,841 Americans lost their lives in distracted driving crashes.
While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that texting and driving is the most alarming distraction, they said that it’s not limited to just that. Distracted driving can be talking, eating or drinking, or even flipping with your radio.
These statistics hit home for Lynn Haven resident Diane Wishart, who lost her husband, Ray, in 2016 to a distracted driver. The two were married for nearly 40 years.
“Raymond was the love of my life,” Wishart said.
College sweethearts, the pair built their home in Lynn Haven back in 1982. A talented photographer and beloved high school teacher, Ray took up the hobby of biking later in life.
“He was a very avid rider and very safe. He had ridden I don’t know how many thousands of miles, but he always had his helmet on, and he had a mirror on the sides of his bike,” Wishart said.
Despite the safety measures Ray had taken as a bicyclist, unfortunately they were not enough.
“Unfortunately a truck driver didn’t see him one day,” Wishart said.
On Aug. 22, 2016, Ray didn’t return home from his morning bike ride, and Diane said she got news she never wanted to hear. Ray had been hit by a semi-truck driver who claimed he never saw him, despite his bright neon clothing. Ray was less than a mile away from home.
“I just never thought that I would lose him,” Wishart said.
Raymond’s life was cut short at just 63 years old, he had also just retired as a teacher at Mosley High School.
“One instant of someone not paying attention, took my husband, my girl’s dad and my partner for life away,” Wishart said.
Ray passed away in 2016 before the state of Florida passed laws that allow law enforcement officers to fine drivers who text and drive. But despite tightened restrictions, Diane said that it’s still a huge problem, and she’s urging people to put to take caution when they drive.
“It’s against the law, but I still see people do it, and you’ve got to pay attention,” she said.