Teaching teenagers to drive causes many parents to panic. However, for B.J. Williams, a survivor of a car accident that caused brain injury, talking to soon-to-be teenage drivers about how dangerous bad road habits can be is crucial.
Williams said, "It's the importance of understanding it before they get their licenses. One second of eyes off the road, the distraction can change your life in the worst way." Brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability in people ages 15 to 24, and car crashes account for almost 40% of those injuries in teens.
Williams' message is that such trauma is preventable. Distractions, such as eating, texting, or friends, are a major problem; so is not wearing a seat belt.
Williams' story is this: At the age of 21, he was an unbuckled passenger of his friend's car when it crashed on the Massachusetts Turnpike. The accident left Williams with a traumatic brain injury that obliterated his sense of taste, smell, hearing in one ear, and his dream of playing professional hockey. At the time of the accident, he was playing for the Baystate Breakers, an amateur hockey club. He says, "Hockey was taken from me...something I'd worked my whole life for. Just from the one time in my life I didn't wear a seat belt."
Six years after the accident, Williams now speaks to teens around the state of Massachusetts as the program manager of the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts' Keep Every Youth Safe program. He says the program isn't about scare tactics, but does show some videos about how damaging not wearing your seat belt can be to your body.
The message is simple: be safe. Don't let distrations cause you to injure yourself or others, and always wear a seat belt.
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