Widow's plea to drivers: 'To save lives, hang up and drive'

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A new survey by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) found 68 percent of teen drivers use an app while behind the wheel.

Carrie Patterson's husband was on his bike when he was killed by a distracted driver in September 2009. The driver ended up being one of Gordon Patterson's students, Antonio Cellestine, who admitted he was texting his girlfriend at the time of the crash.

“I had to step up and be a single parent instantly and you never anticipate that happening,” Carrie Patterson told KATU News Wednesday. “I thought about starting a nonprofit just for that, because there is such a need, especially when there is a parent that is killed."

She found there was not much aid for families who are victims of distracted driving.

Though that project is still in the works, she thinks her husband's accident serves as a lesson for the community.

“What each of us does impacts others in the community,” Carrie Patterson said. “To not be responsible and to take risks that affect others' lives will always have an impact on everybody else around them.”

Her daughter Julie agrees.

“I’m of the age of the people that have the iPhone and the newest technology. Distracted driving is huge because it took my dad away,” Julie said.

Portland Police say you are six times more likely to cause a crash while distracted driving than drunk driving.

Nearly 60 percent of teenagers use their phones to make calls and 27 percent of teens are texting

Julie Patterson said she's thankful many industry leaders have chosen to fight against distracted driving.

“Companies and apps now-a-days are coming out with apps that recognize that you are driving and basically say nope, you are driving. We get this. We know you want to use this but we also know distracted driving is a big problem,” she said.

The Pattersons hope their story will make parents and teens think twice about what they do behind the wheel.

“Whether the kids listen or not it is their responsibility. And, if they are not going to, they have to take on that responsibility,” said Carrie Patterson. “To save lives, hang up and drive.”

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