Your Family

Apr 26, 2010 8:46 PM by Monica Quintero

Texting while driving a tragic reminder for one Santa Maria family

The latest incident of texting and driving serves as a grim reminder for a Santa Maria family who's loved one was killed by a distracted driver.

Eric Okerblom graduated from St. Joseph High School. He was a standout athlete and National Merit Scholar. The 19-year-old had just finished his freshman year at UC Berkley.

Bob Okerblom, Eric's father, said, "There's no question it's dangerous. Study after study shows it, it's a scientific fact." The father wants people to know it's not only dangerous but can also turn deadly. He said, "We've had to push ourselves to kind of get up each day and go to work and do what we need to do."

The California Highway Patrol wants to remind drivers, it's against the law. Initially, a law went into effect two years ago making talking and driving illegal. Then, six months later the texting law went into effect.

But 18-year-old Ciera Main said it's still prevalent among young people. Main said, "Personally, I discourage it a lot because I understand it's a very big risk." The Santa Maria student admits she's done it before but now realizes the dangers and she has some advice for her peers. Main said, "Just wait." Okerblom said, "Just like you wouldn't drink and drive, you don't want to be cell drunk and drive."

CHP also said the latest statistics statewide came from 2007. There were roughly 1,100 accidents because of people using their cell phones in some way and about 450 people injured.

One celebrity who has been pushing for Americans to end their use of cell phones while driving is Oprah Winfrey. She has actually dubbed this Friday "National No Phone Zone Day."

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