The statistics are frightening. In 2016 more than 3,450 people lost their lives in automobile accidents for just one reason… distracted driving. It didn’t matter if the person behind the wheel was using a cell phone, tuning the radio or eating some fast food while driving, the result was a terrible accident and another life lost.
Today a growing number of young people are trying to fight this epidemic of senseless deaths through education programs. Leading the effort on the Syracuse University campus is the Syracuse chapter of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. This fall they will be holding their third annual campus wide education program to help educate students and obtain student pledges not to drive distracted.
This campaign has a personal connection for Phi Kappa Psi because of the death of two brothers, Hunter Watson and Vinny Maugeri, two fraternity members who died in a distracted driving related accidents in 2016.
In response to Hunter’s death his family and a number of friends established the Hunter B. Watson Memorial Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to honoring Hunter’s legacy by underwriting a grant program to support innovative young people, and by working cooperatively with groups such as Phi Kappa Psi to help educate the public regarding the dangers of distracted driving. At Syracuse alone the HBW Fund has made grants to two students, funded 4 Blackstone Launchpad awards and Hunter’s family established a scholarship in their son’s name for the Phi Kappa Psi chapter. For this campus wide program the fraternity will have several sign-up tables where students and faculty can get educational material about distracted driving, sign a pledge not to be distracted drivers themselves, and receive stickers and wrist bands to help remind them of the importance of staying alert and focused behind the wheel.
Additional information on the program, and on the efforts of the Hunter B. Watson Memorial Fund, is available at the Memorial Fund website at www.hunterwatson.org.