Before we celebrate the birth of our country, Merritt’s Way, is asking people to “text less,” and “live more,” today, June 3.The organization, Merritt’s Way is dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and getting behind the wheel while texting or streaming on social media.
The campaign to stop texting while driving was launched in memory of 18-year-old Merritt Levitan, of Boston, who was killed while biking cross-country from Charleston, S.C., to Santa Monica, Calif. In 2013, Merritt and six other bicyclists were pedaling through rural Arkansas when the group was hit by a car driven by a distracted, 21-year-old driver.
Merritt died from brain injuries on July 3 sustained in the accident, and most of the others in the group were seriously injured. They were among 13 cyclists on the national tour led by Overland, a summer camps program based in Williamstown, Mass.
Merritt’s friends from Milton High School in Boston, MA created the #TextLess Live More (TLLM) campaign to honor her memory, and their activism has already lead to large and grassroots national movement, including monthly “text free” days at high schools around the nation.
To date, the group has distributed more than 10,000 blue “TextLess Live More for Merritt” bracelets, along with kits explaining their mission, through high schools and colleges across the country. In addition, Public Service Announcements, one of which was narrated by actor Giancarlo Esposito (Gus on AMC’s “Breaking Bad”) were released last year, and more than a quarter of a million people have watched the TLLM PSAs in 2014-2015.
According to AAA, the 100 “deadliest” days of driving are between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year.
“We’re inviting the nation to turn off your phones and do something fun with someone you cherish,” said Anna Levitan, Merrit’s mother. We encourage everyone to celebrate friendships and be present in real time, in honor of Merritt, and for your own wellbeing. We all pray for a #SafeSummer2015.”