Please Be Safe. Make the Right Call

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Robert Bailey was 21 years old when he lost his life in a preventable car crash. His parents had always talked to him about safe driving, things like wearing his seat belt and never texting behind the wheel or drinking and driving.

Years before his crash, his cousin had been in a car collision and suffered serious injuries, so the family was well aware of the consequences of driving error. When Robert’s family received the call that no parent wants to hear, the hysterical voice on the other line conveyed there had been a crash and Robert’s injuries were serious. It was a mother of one of the other passengers, and she wept that he was bleeding from the mouth. Rhonda Bailey, Robert’s mother, remembers thinking, “Okay, we can handle this. We will nurse him back to health. Our family has done this before.”

What she was not prepared for was the information she received at the hospital that night. Robert had not survived the crash. He and two other friends were coming home from California’s Six Flags Magic Mountain, where they had spent a gleeful day on rides and exploring the park. By day’s end, the three friends found themselves exhausted and a minor dispute arose over who would drive. The call that the Baileys would have given anything to receive instead of the one they did would have gone something like this, “Mom, my friends and I are all tired, so instead of one of us driving drowsy, we are going to find a safe place to park the car and nap for an hour or so before hitting the road.” The group made the deadly decision to press on, and Robert made the deadly decision to lay down in the backseat without buckling his seatbelt. The driver drifted to sleep behind the wheel; the car went off the road and upside down into a building; Robert died instantly. The last text that Rhonda had sent her son read: “Please be safe.”

The Impact Teen Driver team spent time with this amazing family, looking at photos and mementos, essays Robert had written, and filming their powerful story. Like so many families, the Bailey family has chosen to share their story because they cannot bear the thought of any more families having to experience the immeasurable pain of losing a young person in a preventable car crash. They have chosen to share their story because they want to save lives.

Stay posted for Robert’s Story, and always drive safely. Drive alert and undistracted and buckle up 100% of the time.