Politics & Government

Texas woman to tell of mother's death at Distracted Drivers Summit

A Grapevine woman whose mother was killed by a motorist talking on a cellphone will testify today during a distracted-driving summit in Washington, D.C.

Jennifer Smith, 35, hopes that sharing her story will persuade others not to talk or text on a cellphone while driving. She also favors tougher laws banning the use of cellphones behind the wheel — even hands-free devices, which studies say can be just as distracting.

Her mother, Linda Doyle, was broadsided Sept. 3, 2008, at an intersection in Oklahoma City by a young driver who admitted that he had been talking on a cellphone.

"The cause of my mother's death was listed as blunt-force trauma to the head, neck and chest," Smith said in a phone interview. "I just call it death by cellphone."

Smith and at least five others across the U.S. who have lost loved ones to distracted driving will appear during a news conference at today's opening of the U.S. Transportation Department's Distracted Driving Summit.

A real estate agent in Grapevine, Smith admits that before her mother's death, she thought nothing of doing business on her cellphone while driving.

Now she is disgusted by the widespread practice and often resists the urge to confront careless drivers.

"Telling my story is the only thing that changes people's perceptions," Smith said. "We've done about as much education and awareness as we can. People now know there's a problem with this. We need laws."

To read the complete article, visit www.star-telegram.com.