As part of a distracted driver safety campaign the crashed vehicle of 19-year-old Alexxyss Therwhanger will be on display at the Hermiston High School parking lot April 3 and 4. Alexxyss was killed in a car crash on February 19th, 2016 while driving home in eastern Oregon. She was using her cell phone and lost control of her car.

Parties interested in learning more about the dangers of distracted driving are encouraged to view the vehicle display, which includes information about the state’s distracted driving campaign and links to several safety messages. One of which is a three minute video about Alexxyss that features her mother and includes a plea from Oregon State Police.

“What we are asking people to do is to take a pledge… to stay off their hand held electronic devices and focus on the road,” said Oregon State Police Captain Bill Fugate.

After Hermiston, the vehicle will be begin a six-months-long tour of Oregon to be displayed at key distracted driving events, the first of which will be at the 2017 National Distracted Driving Awareness Month Kickoff Event at the Salem Capital Mall on April 6.

“Distracted driving is a problem that Oregon has been working on for many years,” said Kelly Kapri, a program manager for ODOT’s Transportation Safety Division. “At last year’s National Distracted Driving Awareness kickoff event, ODOT and OSP announced their partnership to combat distracted driving statewide with 40 unmarked police cars. The distracted driving awareness PSA featuring Alexxyss Therwhanger was made and aired in Oregon and Washington, her story has been told in Oregon and Washington legislature to change distracted driving laws in both states. The ODOT/OSP Distracted Driving Awareness Trailer with Alexxyss’ crashed car enclosed will tour statewide raising awareness, encouraging drivers to take a pledge and ultimately changing driver behavior. There was also a multi-disciplinary task force formed that examined distracted driving and made recommendations to stop distracted driving. We realize we have to change the cultural norm to say this is unacceptable driving behavior, similar to drinking and driving.”

What is distracted driving?

Distraction occurs when a driver voluntarily diverts attention to something not related to driving that uses the driver’s eyes, ears, or hands. There are four types of driver distraction:

  • Visual — looking at something other than the road
  • Auditory — hearing something not related to driving
  • Manual — manipulating something other than the wheel
  • Cognitive — thinking about something other than driving

Most distractions involve more than one of these types, with both a sensory — eyes, ears, or touch — and a mental component.