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'Phones Down, Just Drive' raising awareness on distracted driving

Texas deputy caught texting and driving by man he arrested
Posted at 10:26 PM, Sep 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-16 01:43:15-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — It’s been nearly two years since Deborah Garcia and Julie Festerling lost their children to a tragic car crash.

“They were rear-ended by a driver who was distracted and pushed into oncoming traffic that killed both of them,” Garcia recalls.

Now the mothers have launched a non-profit organization called ‘Phones Down, Just Drive’ to promote safe driving.

“If we can get it out there, get the message out there, and save one life, it’s totally worth it for us,” says Festerling.

With the help of state trooper Tim Varga, Garcia and Festerling went to Mountain View High School to help educate students on the importance of safe driving.

According to Festerling, the students were very engaged. “I kind of thought they would not be so receptive, but they were. It was awesome,” she said.

Trooper Varga says it’s an issue far beyond the classroom. “Everyday I see it. I see it every hour. It’s the one thing that I have a passion for is stopping people who are driving with a cell phone in their hand.” He says the problem starts with the older generation.

“Monkey see, monkey do. If they see the parent doing it, they think it’s okay,” said Varga.

'Phones Down, Just Drive' plans to push for changes in the law.

“We want to go to the legislature to make the fines and penalties stronger. It’s as dangerous as driving while intoxicated, so let’s make the penalties the same,” Garcia said.

They have a number of events scheduled to continue to raise awareness on the importance of safe driving.

No one has been charged in the accident that killed Paul Garcia and Caitlin Festerling. Police say the case is still open.