Woman shares personal tragedy to bring attention to distracted driving

NAPERVILLE, Ill. -- Charlene Sligting-Yorke visits high schools throughout Illinois and northern Indiana for AAA, teaching students about traffic safety.

She was recently at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, giving six presentations. That means she is re-living the horrible night a distracted driver killed her dad, six times.

"This is what’s left of my dad’s bike. You can see the skid marks. You can see how it just went across the ground,” she said, choking up.

Her dad John Sligting was killed at 56 years old on June 13, 2007. He was riding his motorcycle home from work when a driver talking on a cell phone rolled through a stop sign and into his path.

"He had his helmet on. He had his chaps on. He had taken all the motorcycle classes was safe did everything right, everything. But someone chose to drive distracted, so my dad died there...died there,” she said.

Sligting-Yorke has now made it her career to help make sure other families don’t lose their loved ones to a distracted driver.

"I don’t want that to happen to me or any of my family or friends so I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that doesn’t happen," said freshman Jack Downsend."

I never want that to happen to anyone i know so it definitely impacted me," said freshman Elly Hofemann.

"I know that they’re gonna walk out of this classroom, and they had 'aha moment,' and it's going to change their behavior. And if I can change one person's behavior, they can help someone else change their behavior, and it's the butterfly effect," she said. "And then my dad’s legacy gets to live on. He’s in Heaven now, but his legacy lives on."

The teen driver who hit Sligting-Yorke's dad along Route 137 in Libertyville was fined $300 and given 100 hours of court service.

But this happened 10 years ago. Now, there are laws in Illinois that say if you cause a crash that harms or kills someone while driving and using a cell phone, you could face a felony charge and prison time.

A quick refresher on the law in Illinois:

  • You can’t hold your phone in any way while driving.
  • You have to be hands-free. So even if you’re just sitting at a stop light, you can’t pick it up to send a text or check Facebook.
  • For drivers under 19, you can’t use a cell phone in any way while driving. Not even hands-free.