The California Highway Patrol has teamed up with educators and student leaders to campaign against distracted driving.
"The reality is that the number one killer of young people in America isn't drugs, suicide or disease. It's preventable diseases," says Kelly Browning, the executive director of Impact Teen Drivers.
Browning says enough teens are killed every year in preventable accidents in California to fill up eight yellow school buses. Browning says distraction goes beyond texting while driving. Simply reaching for a phone could be an act of distracted driving, as Gonzalo Aranguiz tragically knows. "By leaning towards it, my car shifted toward the side of the curb. And that's when I felt the impact," says Aranguiz.
In 2013, while leaving the Cal Poly Pomona campus, Aranguiz hit and killed a cyclist. "That moment, seeing him on the ground, is something that lives with me everyday of my life. It's a moment that brings a lot of pain," says Aranguiz.
April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. CHP Southern Division Assistant Chief Mark Garrett says the culture of driving while distracted needs to change. "The most important thing any of us can do when we're driving a vehicle, is to drive that vehicle," says Garrett. "Everything else should be secondary or nonexistent.
And almost everything else is illegal in California after some of the strictest distracted driving laws in the nation went into effect with the new year. The new law, AB 1785, requires phones be mounted on dashboards or windshields. Drivers can only use the phones hands-free.
Aranguiz says he is dedicated to sharing his message, because he's seen the destruction a momentary lapse of attention can bring.
"Focus on the road. Don't let these small choices; these small distractions change your life for the worse."
Listen below for Gonzolo Aranguiz's full account of the tragic day that changed so many lives forever.