EMT creates nonprofit to raise awareness about dangers of texting while driving

LANCASTER, Pa. --  An Emergency Medical Technician from Lancaster County is trying to stop people from texting and driving after becoming the victim in a distracted driving crash.

Tonight, her non-profit organization held its first major event.

The organization is called 'Hands Free America Inc.', and the organization’s message is 'distracted driving kills'.

The event, 'Jam for Awareness' - may have been lighthearted, but it had a serious message.

Jamming to spread the message: "Absolutely beyond a shadow of doubt, do not be on your phone behind the wheel. There is not a single text message you will get or a single phone call you’re going to take or make that is worth your life or somebody else," said Joey Eddins.

Eddins is an emergency medical technician who used to respond to distracted driving crashes until she became the victim in one, while driving one night to pick up her daughter.

"He was texting and driving. He was at a stop. I had the right away, and he just pulled out in front of me because his brain was in one place and not on the road, and that was it," explained Eddins.

“I was actually on my way home from the hospital, and I had to go back, and when that happened, it changed everything with my mom," said Cheyenne Eddins, Joey's daughter and the vice president of Hands Free America.

"I was driving my daughter home from the hospital and ended up in the hospital myself," said Eddins.

Eddins suffered serious ankle damage causing her to undergo multiple surgeries and ending her ability to be a first responder.

Hoping to prevent other crashes, the ‘mom and daughter duo’, created the organization with the goal of reminding people to think twice before grabbing a phone in the car.

"When you sign up to drive, you should really be responsible of your phone. If you can’t put that away, then you can’t have your license," said Cheyenne.

The proceeds from tonight’s organization will go towards efforts to toughen Pennsylvania’s distracted driving laws and help victims of crashes.

Currently, the penalty is a $50 fine which some say isn’t enough.

“I just can’t believe somebody could get that cheap, off for doing something that horrible," said Bill Brown, District Governor with the Lancaster Lions.

"We have to make these laws more of a deterrent. Right now, there’s no real deterrent. It’s a $50 fine, whether you’re pulled over once or ten times," said Eddins.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, if you send or receive a text while driving, your eyes are off the road for five seconds.

A driver going 55 mph can travel the length of a football field blind in that time.

According to tests carried out by Car and Driver Magazine, a driver who is texting has a slower reaction time than a driver whose blood-alcohol level is at the legal maximum of .08% blood-alcohol concentration.