When her good friend Jeanne Johnson’s 16-year-old daughter Lisa was killed in a car accident, Lynne Kenney Markan of Scottsdale couldn’t contain her grief.
"Lisa was known for her affable style and her kindness toward students who had trouble fitting in," Markan said. "How could such a beautiful teen who was ready to give so much to the world die so needlessly?"
To help prevent more teens from dying so tragically, Markan contacted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to learn more about the dangers of teen driving. Then, she created www.DontBecomeAMemory.com, a Web site that offers safe driving information for teachers, principals, community leaders, teens and parents.
"When Lisa died, DontBecomeAMemory .com was the one way I could contain my sense of desperation and hope to save a life at the same time," Markan said.
Although Lisa regularly wore a seat belt, she was not wearing one when she was involved in the crash that killed her on Jan. 25, 2003.
"I learned that less than 70 percent of Arizona teenagers wear their seat belts on a regular basis," Markan said. "Now that I am bettereducated, I see parents every day driving with their children and teens unbelted, and it infuriates me."
The site asks parents and teachers to download educational posters to hang in schools and to give teens "Live Another Beautiful Day" cards when they see them wearing a seat belt.
"We want to provide tools for parents, principals and local community leaders to be empowered to make a difference," said Rick Cluck of Heritage Financial Advisors, one of the Web site’s supporters.
To encourage kids to become better drivers during the holiday season, DontBecomeAMemory.com is sponsoring a safe driving contest. Teenagers can go to the site and review a series of safe driving tips. After answering the questions and signing a safe driving contract, they will be registered for a random drawing for prizes.
"No one ever thinks they are going to die in a car crash," said Shannon Field, one of Lisa Johnson’s friends. "When Lisa got into the car that night, she didn’t think that she would miss her prom, never go to college and never get married or have children. She didn’t think her mom would cry herself to sleep every night for the next year.
"Teenagers need to buckle up every time every day. We need to make wearing seat belts cool. Just tell yourself, ‘My life is important.’ "