Man who nearly lost his life because of texting while driving shares his story Video by tmj4.comvideo
BELOIT - Come December 1st, texting and driving will be illegal in the state of Wisconsin. We have a story that may stop you from pushing those tiny buttons long before then.
Aaron Brookens of Beloit loves being behind the wheel of his Chevy truck. The 20-year-old used to have one hand on the wheel, and the other hand texting away.
"I would text and drive all the time. I mean, there probably weren't too many times I was driving without texting," he recalls.
These days, he keeps both hands on the wheel--not on his phone. The reason? He showed us pictures of a smashed-up, blood-stained piece of metal and glass. It's his old car--after he slammed into a semi-truck on I-90 in January. It all happened while he was sending a text.
Aaron doesn't remember much, but he recalls, "At the last second, I look up, I see a huge semi--it wasn't like I saw a semi, it was a huge white wall, that's how close I was to it."
He knows he should have died that day.
"My vitals slowed way down, and they almost lost me they said." Aaron adds, "I feel blessed really, like the Lord was 100% with me that night, really."
His faith and his humor have helped him recover from his gashes and broken bones. He jokes about his legs, "I got Titanium in these babies now! They should be stronger. Reinforced legs!"
He's not joking when it comes to the dangers of texting. He warns, "When you think about something so little, it can change your life so drastically, it's like, 'Why even do it?' Is that text really that important? Probably not."
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke agrees. He says, "I can't put it any more subtly than this: Texting while driving is a deadly habit."
Deputies learn about the dangers of distracted driving on this road simulator. It shows even a quick glance from the road can be catastrophic.
"When you look away from the windshield for 3-5 seconds, in that amount of time a car travels the dist of a football field," Sheriff Clarke explains.
Clarke adds, if you do choose to text--they'll catch you. "We know all the tricks, because too many people at this time engage in it."
As for Aaron, he's still a text addict, just not behind the wheel. He's now enjoying the simpler things in life--like being back at his sales job, and playing outside with his dog Diesel. Aaron admits, "It's changed me, it's slowed me down quite a bit... I appreciate life a little more now that it's happened to me, and I kinda came that close to having it all taken away from me."
Aaron has already told his story to students at a driving school. He hopes to continue spreading his anti-texting message to other young drivers across the area.
Sheriff Clarke says texting while driving is now a leading cause of serious death and injury for people under age 24. After December 1st, texting or e-mailing behind the wheel will also carry a fine ranging from $20-400. That's the same penalty as inattentive driving.