What began as a local grassroots trauma prevention program has now gained the attention of an international organization. Parkview Trauma Centers’ ‘Don’t Text & Drive’ program has been asked to participate in a global effort to spread the word about the dangers of distracted driving and has been invited to attend World Telecommunications and Information Society Day in Geneva Switzerland. As a means of bringing global attention to this cause, the United Nations has declared “Improving Road Safety” the theme for the upcoming summit on May 17th.
Parkview has been asked by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations’ specialized agency for information and communication technologies, to share intelligence about its work to prevent distracted driving and to participate in the kick-off of the organization’s road safety campaign. At the event, Parkview’s ‘Don’t Text & Drive’ program will display its work and share information about the campaign’s achievements. The United Nations ITU division contacted Parkview in November 2012, sharing its plan for a campaign to reduce distracted driving to 193 member countries. More than 330 people from countries all around the world are expected to attend the event.
Parkview has also been asked to be the first civil society supporter of the ITU’s road safety campaign. With a Facebook page that has garnered more than 135,000 followers from around the world, Parkview’s ‘Don’t Text & Drive’ has a strong base of supporters with whom it will share the global road safety message.
"We contacted Parkview because we believe its Don't Text and Drive program is leading the United States in this educational message,” said Paul Marko, Head of Resource Mobilization, International Telecommunications Union. “With most countries much farther behind the U.S. in efforts aimed at reducing distracted driving, we desperately need this educational message spread around the globe."
“Sharing our Don't Text and Drive campaign and achievements on an international level and potentially helping improve road safety all over the globe is quite an honor for our health system,” said Mike Packnett, President and CEO of Parkview Health.
Parkview Trauma Centers started a teen driving safety education program in 2007 after learning teen driver fatalities in Allen County were on the rise in. In 2009, they launched the Don't Text and Drive program as a grassroots initiative. Lori Hunt, Parkview trauma prevention coordinator, developed the idea after watching her teenage boys struggle with the urge to exchange text messages while on the road.
"I saw my boys and their friends texting constantly,” said Hunt. “I knew that they were continuing this behavior when they were driving. It was almost like an addiction, but no one was talking about the dangers and consequences of this behavior.”
After research indicated that no resources or programs existed, Hunt knew that Parkview needed to respond by educating the public on how deadly this practice could be.
Parkview's Trauma Center started the campaign with education in area high schools, and the program has grown to offer education through interactive classroom conferencing nationally. Social media has been used to spread the awareness as well. Many hospitals and organizations throughout United States have purchased the rights to the program and spread the message throughout their areas from Parkview's public service announcements, radio spots, billboards, and logo wear.