The annual Lifesavers Conference on Highway Safety Priorities opened Sunday in Charlotte with a video that began with a grim statistic -- 35,029 traffic fatalities in 2015, an 8 percent increase over the previous year. The video continued with a montage of photos of happy, smiling people, with their names and ages -- which ranged from a few months to 87 years. Each was a victim of a traffic crash and was someone's spouse, mother, father, brother, sister, child or baby.
The first speaker, Rich Leotta, bravely told the story of his son, Maryland State Trooper Noah Leotta, who was killed by a drunk driver a year ago he was talking to another driver he had just pulled over for impaired driving. Officer Leotta was 24.
Throughout this conference, I've heard many similar stories and I've met many people who, after a devastating loss from a car crash, now devote their lives to trying to help others avoid such heartbreak.
I'm here representing and presenting for my client The National Road Safety Foundation, which produces programs it gives away free to help teach drivers to avoid bad decisions that can have life-changing results -- distracted and impaired driving, drowsy driving, speed and aggressive driving.
Every time I come to a traffic safety conference, I am impressed and humbled by the people who work in this field. For most, it's so much more than a job -- it's a passion and a devotion to saving lives. I am glad to be part of this community.