Parents of teen who died texting and driving become lobbyists for a ban
On January 12th, college teen Taylor Sauer correctly pointed out the danger of texting and driving in a text to her friend that ended with the word “Haha” moments before she slammed into the back of a tanker truck at 80 miles per hour.
Sauer, described as bright and outgoing, was driving late, making the four-hour trip to her parents place in Caldwell, Idaho from the Utah State University campus in Logan. As she drove along I-84, she was sending messages to a Facebook friend about the Denver Broncos football team. Her final text said, “I can’t discuss this now. Driving and facebooking is not safe! Haha.”
It was apparently only moments later that Sauer, who had been traveling at over 80 mph, hit a tanker truck that was slowly ascending a hill. Investigators saw no indication that she tried to apply the brakes before the crash and she was killed instantly. According to her cell phone records, she had been posting about every 90 seconds throughout her drive.
Taylor’s dad, Clay Sauer, said, “I think she was probably (texting) to stay awake, she was probably tired…But that’s not a reason to do it, and the kids think they’re invincible. To them, (texting) is not distracting, they’re so proficient at texting, that they don’t feel it’s distracted driving.”
Taylor’s parents, Clay and Shauna Sauer, have become lobbyists in Idaho to urge the state legislature to pass a ban on texting while driving. Their home state is one of 13 states in the U.S. that currently has no texting and driving law in place.
All indications were that Taylor Sauer had a wonderful future ahead of her. She was the class salutatorian in her high school when she graduated last year with a 3.9 grade point average. She was active in community charities and named a National Merit Scholar, after which she told a local TV station, “I want to go even further and take on the world.”
Shauna Sauer feels that her daughter became caught up in the modern-day, multi-tasking world. She said, “There was a time when we were all able to get into a car and drive, and listen to the radio or talk to our family…Now, we feel like we’ve got to get just everything done in the car, and I just think we need to be a little bit…simpler.”
The family testified before the Idaho State Legislature just weeks after Taylor’s death, hoping to influence them as they consider a texting-while-driving ban. The bill has been defeated before in the state. Speaking to the legislature, Taylor’s 11-year-old sister said that Taylor “would never be her bridesmaid,” and her mother told the lawmakers, “What if that one person was your daughter?”
While some lawmakers say that the current inattentive driving law covers texting, Shauna Sauer noted that a driver must be witnessed by police breaking another driving law to be stopped.
Clay Sauer said, “I think every state should have the (texting ban) law…It might not make changes right now, but (for) the younger generations it will be an educational tool, just like the seat belt (law). We all fought against seat belts, (but) now, everybody wears seat belts. The kids will be trained and learn from a young age that they can’t text and drive.”
The Sauers are motivated by working to help other young people avoid the tragedy that befell their daughter as they still try to come to terms with their grief. Shauna Sauer said, “(Taylor) just loved everybody and was an amazing friend…She wanted to take on the world, and she would have.”