“These feelings are so incredibly deep and they never heal,” Elene Bratton said. “There’s never a day that goes by that I don’t think about my son and wish he was here.”
Bratton’s sister picked Jamie up from school and on their way home she lost control of the car and swerved into oncoming traffic.
“She was reaching for her cell phone that was ringing on the front seat,” Bratton said.
The energetic 5-year-old was known for his smile. He dreamed of becoming a dentist and now the grieving mother dreams about what could have been.
“I can’t even really be mad at my sister, because I’ve driven in the car talking on the phone,” Bratton said. “I just have to raise my own awareness… Just don’t do it, it’s not worth it.”
Bratton is hoping that message resonates with other drivers.
She joined traffic safety experts at Rady Children’s hospital Wednesday to spread the word about distracted driving.
About 3600 people are killed in distracted driving crashes ever year and 150,000 more are injured.
Raising awareness is only part of the solution. Studies show most drivers know they’re doing something wrong, but still do it.
AAA of Southern California is pushing for more patrols and tougher punishments.
In California 800,000 citations have gone out for distracted driving since the laws went into effect, but AAA Southern California Senior Research Associate Steve Bloch says that’s not enough.
“We don’t give out high fines for this and we don’t put points on a driving record and yet this is as dangerous as say speeding,” Bloch said.
Thursday the national “It Can Wait” campaign is asking drivers to pledge to put their phones down while they’re on the road.
It’s a lesson Bratton’s family learned the hard way and since then she’s started the Jamie’s Joy foundation to promote traffic safety in her community.
The non-profit also raises money for children’s programs and bereavement services.
“You don’t want to feel these feelings I have, you don’t want to live like this for the rest of your life,” Bratton said. “It hurts everyday and you don’t want to do this to yourself or somebody else.”