US Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
www.dot.gov/briefing-room.html

DOT 77-11
Monday, July 11, 2011
Contact: Justine Adelizzi
Tel: (202) 366-4570

U.S. DOT Releases New "Faces of Distracted Driving" Video Featuring Family of Heather Lerch
Dan and Wendy Lerch of Rochester, Washington Speak About the Loss of Their 19-year-old Daughter Heather

WASHINGTON - U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today released the latest video in the U.S. Department of Transportation's "Faces of Distracted Driving" series, featuring the family of 19-year-old Heather Lerch from Rochester, Washington.

WATCH: "Heather Lerch, 19" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ins-s_lNT-Y

Heather Lerch was a first-year student at Centralia College in Centralia, Washington, where she was studying forensics and hoped to pursue a career in criminal justice. But on February 23, 2010, Heather was killed when she lost control of her car and crashed through a guardrail on her way home from work. She was speeding and texting at the time of the crash.

"The loss of a bright and talented young woman like Heather is a tragic reminder of the epidemic of distracted driving on our roadways," said Secretary LaHood. "I hope that everyone who hears her parents share their story will remember to keep their eyes on the road, their hands on the wheel, and their focus on driving."

The video released today was produced by the Washington State Department of Licensing and submitted for inclusion in the "Faces of Distracted Driving" series by Heather's parents, Dan and Wendy Lerch.

"Heather had so much more of this life to live, but it was all taken away by a conversation that could have waited," said Wendy Lerch. "Texting is an epidemic on our roadways, and it needs to be stopped."

"Faces of Distracted Driving" is a video series that raises awareness about the potentially tragic consequences of texting and cell phone use while driving by sharing the stories of family members who have lost loved ones in distracted driving crashes. In 2009, nearly 5,500 people died and half a million were injured in accidents involving a distracted driver. The series is part of Secretary LaHood's effort to raise greater awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.

WATCH: "Faces of Distracted Driving" - www.distraction.gov/content/faces

The U.S. Department of Transportation encourages anyone who would like to share their distracted driving experiences to email: faces@distraction.gov.

To learn more about USDOT's efforts to stop distracted driving, please visit http://www.distraction.gov.