ST. GEORGE – The first of many new street signs warning drivers of distracted driving was unveiled on Dixie Drive at the former site of a fatal accident.
“This sign is placed in memory of David Henson,” a smaller sign reads underneath the large one with a phone crossed out inside a big red circle. David Henson, and his wife, Leslee Henson, were involved in an accident on Dixie Drive on March 4 that killed David and left his wife severely injured. Since then, Leslie Henson and her family have made public awareness of the dangers of distracted driving a crusade throughout the state.
“Our ultimate goal is to make Utah a hand’s free state,” Leslee Henson said during a brief unveiling of the anti-texting sign hosted by St. George officials.
A small crowd of family and friends attended the unveiling. Mayor Dan McArthur and the St. George City Council were also at the event, as were St. George Police Chief Marlon Stratton and other members of the police department.
“Everyone one of us has been distracted in driving,” McArthur said, whether it was by putting on makeup, a tie, eating, texting, or just using the phone in general, everyone has been distracted at one point or another, and it needs to stop.
“We feel like it’s such an important topic right now,” Leslee Henson said. “We want to make this city and every city in Utah a safer place to live.”
Stratton said the sign, which will be put up everywhere the city feels there is a need, is only one part of what the police hope to do about distracted drivers.
Along with stricter enforcement around town, Stratton said public awareness is a big goal. He said he would rather see people choose to drive safer rather than be issued a ticket because they somehow think they are immune to the possibility of an accident.
Just because people see an accident in the paper and it doesn’t directly affect them, people tend to think it doesn’t apply to them, Stratton said.
People need to step back and realize: “Because of me using my phone I am endangering other people,” Stratton said.
“I hope for their sakes they don’t have an accident because it can really change their lives and someone else’s,” Leslee Henson said.
She said being back at the spot where the accident occurred was “a little tough because it brings back memories,” but that it was also good. She was grateful to the City of St. George and its Police Department for supporting the idea of the signs and helping to move the “Stop the Texts, Stop the Wrecks” campaign forward in the city.
Leslee Henson and her daughter, Haley Warner, approached the St. George City Council on June 20 to ask the city to post the signs around town. The council was unanimously in favor of the idea.
St. George now joins Ivins, Santa Clara and various high school parking lots in posting the anti-texting signs. Washington City Mayor Ken Neilson also indicated a strong interest in having the signs in his city.
Distracted driving and child safety will be the focus of an upcoming Community Action Team meeting to be held at the Dixie Center at 6 p.m., Tuesday, August 5. Leslee Henson and Warner, will be sharing a presentation on the matter.
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