‘I can’t get the picture of that bumper out of my head’: Thomasville Distracted Driving victim speaks out
THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WALB) - A South Georgia woman who was badly hurt in a distracted driving crash has a powerful message for people who are on their phones behind the wheel.
“I’m having tremendous amounts of stress and anxiety about driving again,” Cindy Willis, a distracted driving victim, said.
Willis was on her way to work in February 2023 when a wrong-way driver hit her head-on, causing her car to flip over. You can see her arm as she was pinned inside her car while EMS worked to get her out for an hour in the photo below.
“Loss of independence has been a huge challenge to me. On top of that, you have the mental part of the wreck, you know, you see this vehicle coming at you and I can’t get the picture of that bumper out of my head,” Willis said.
Cindy had to have emergency surgery for a fracture that same night she was emitted. Georgia State Patrol has since ruled the crash a distracted driver crash. The person who is responsible was issued a citation and fine and is named in a lawsuit. Still, Willis says that fine doesn’t make up for the amount of pain and loss she’s experienced even to this day.
“If people could just set their phone aside and understand there’s nothing so important coming from their phone that can’t wait until they’re in a safe area to check that. It would just make a huge difference,” Willis said.
Willis said she is thankful to still be here today. Many victims are less fortunate as distracted driver fatality rates are increasing.
According to the CDC, about 3,000 people die in crashes involving distracted drivers yearly. In 2022, there were over 50,000 distracted driver convictions reported by the agency, per the Georgia Department of Driver Services. Georgia State Patrol Sgt. Robert Corbin says these reports are avoidable.
“As state troopers, we are trying to reduce this serious serious problem,” Corbin said. “On a monthly basis here, hundreds, I’m talking hundreds of distracting driving contacts.”
Even though April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Corbin said this is an issue he and his post work to combat 365 days a year.
“People gotta understand they need to stay off their cell phone. But cell phones aren’t the only distraction people gotta control,” he said.
Messing with your radio, eating, putting on make-up and even having a pet in your lap while driving is also considered distracted driving. The most common, however, is people being distracted by their phones — something that changed Willis’ life forever.
“Any cars that are close, I’m having huge anxiety thinking this is going to happen again,” she said.
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