A second of distraction could kill. Even one second of distraction risks the life of any driver, bicyclist or pedestrian.
Dom Tiberi, sports anchor for 10TV-WBNS, lost his daughter, Maria, in a distracted driving incident in September 2013. Tiberi is coming to the Ohio State campus on Wednesday as a guest speaker for an event hosted by the Share the Road Initiative.
The Share the Road Initiative, which started in 2011, is meant to raise awareness about safety while driving, biking and walking on or around campus.
Over the past year, Tiberi said he has spoken at 38 central Ohio high schools to a total of 26,000 kids as part of an awareness program called Maria’s Message, which is meant to help kids understand the dangers of distracted driving.
“Out of that tragedy, we decided to try to do something about it, so we’ve been taking Maria’s Message to high school-aged kids and college-aged kids and talking to them about this epidemic in our country that is distracted driving,” Tiberi said.
Maria Tiberi, from Dublin, Ohio, was a student in communication at OSU, according to the university directory in 2013.
“It just seems fitting to bring (Dom Tiberi) back to the university to share Maria’s Message in an effort to help educate students about traffic safety and reducing distracted behaviors,” said Administration and Planning spokesman Dan Hedman.
The OSU event will be Tiberi’s first time sharing his message in a college setting, but he said he’s willing talk anywhere to get the message out to the public.
“I’m willing to go anywhere that anyone wants to hear me that I can get to physically because I pray for the day that I don’t have to do it,” Tiberi said. “I’m excited to be able to come to Ohio State, and I’ll be excited to go to other colleges if they want to hear the message.”
Tiberi also said he wanted to stress that distracted driving impacts not only the driver, but also others around them, including pedestrians and bicyclists.
“What I hope that they (college-aged students) realize is that in a split-second, a decision you make could cost you your life and could cost someone else their life,” he said. “There’s nothing cool about death. It takes everything you have, everything you’re ever going to have.”
According to reports from the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, unintentional motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of unintentional deaths in people age 15 to 24. In 2013, 6,510 people in that age group died in a vehicle accident.
“I want the students to hear this message and understand it’s so preventable and it’s taken too many young lives,” Tiberi said.
The event where Tiberi will deliver Maria’s Message aims to make people more aware about the amount of distractions around them and seeks to minimize them as much as possible.
“It doesn’t matter what age you are, today’s world is filled with so many distractions, from cellphones to headphones. It is easy for anyone to become distracted and unintentionally put themselves or others in harm’s way,” Hedman said. “We want to remind our campus community to pay attention and share the road to keep their fellow Buckeyes safe.”
Tiberi will share Maria’s Message at the Ohio Union at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.
A distracted driving simulator and refreshments will be available starting at 10 a.m.