CS Woman Recounts the Dangers and Devastation of Texting While Driving

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Every year, thousands of families nationwide lose a loved one to a distracted driver.

Kristin Cooper of College Station lost her husband Chris in December. Their two-year-old little girl, Colleen, lost her dad.

Authorities say it was all because a young woman was texting instead of paying attention to the road.

Now Kristin is sharing her story in hopes that you think twice before texting or even talking on your cell phone while driving.

"I remember driving and I remember us joking around, the next thing I remember is feeling like I needed to wake up," Kristin Cooper said. "I could hear people talking and I could tell they were talking to me."

What happened on a stretch of highway near Seguin changed Kristin Cooper's life forever.

"The only thing I remember is that I looked over and I saw Chris, but it's a miracle that I couldn't really see what he looked like," Cooper said. "I just remember thinking he didn't look right."

Kristin and her husband Chris were headed to Dallas from Corpus Christi on December 29th. They were on their way to be with Chris's sister, who was in labor with their niece. They had left their daughter Colleen with Kristin's parents.

They were travelling through Seguin when an 18-year-old woman lost control of her vehicle crossed the highway and plowed into the Coopers' SUV. Chris swerved, saving his wife's life. But, he did not survive. The driver of the other vehicle, Sabrina Chapman of Seguin, also died in the crash.

Kristin was rushed to Brackenridge Hospital in Austin for treatment. She suffered injuries to her leg and clavicle.

"I already knew what they were going to come and tell me," Cooper said. "I remember I took a deep breath and I sat there and I prayed and I said, God just tell me how am I supposed to react to this just tell me what I'm supposed to do."

It didn't take long before she got the answer she was looking for.

"We were told by the state trooper later after the accident that they had found a text message that was active on her (the other driver) cell phone," Cooper said.

According to the Department of Public Safety, texting caused the crash. Kristin is now on a mission to crack on distracted driving. On Monday she started her crusade, the same day Chris would have turned 35.

"The message for me is so clear," Cooper said. "It's that she (the other driver) didn't think she was doing anything wrong and any of us that has a cell phone has talked, has texted, looked at things on the internet, checked their email and we think that we can do it, but you just can't."

Kristin is now urging others to honor Chris and pledge to never drive distracted again.

"The next time someone gets in the car and they get a call or they hear a beep for a text message or they think they have to check their email, think about us," Cooper said. "Think about Colleen and you just think about the fact that it's not just your life that you are endangering it's really the lives of the other people around you."

Kristin has started a blog about her experience and her mission.

Here's an excerpt of the blog entry she posted on Chris's birthday.

"Today, on his birthday, I ask you to honor Chris' memory by pledging to never drive distracted again. Honor his memory by never riding in a car with someone who is driving distracted again. Every time someone texts you, or calls while you are driving, think to yourself, "Is sending this text worth risking my life? Is taking this call worth risking the life of another driver?" No call, no text, no email, was worth losing two lives on that day.

My heart aches for the family of the girl who also died that day. She didn't think that she was doing anything wrong. She never had a chance to live her life. I mourn for her, just as I do for Chris.

I ask you today to pledge in memory of Chris to never let your phone distract you while you are driving again. For your own sake, and for the other drivers around you - do not take the chance that your actions could take another life or your own."

You'll find a link to her blog at the bottom of this story.

On another note, numerous statistics support the dangers of distracted driving. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 11 percent of drivers at any point during the day are talking on cell phones while driving.

According to Focus Driven, an advocacy group, drivers who use cell phones are four more times more likely to be involved in a crash.

One recent study also compared drivers using cell phones and drivers impaired by alcohol. Those using cell phones had slower reaction times.