Story written by Kayla Bundle
“Drivers Start Your Engines,” the engines begin to roar and the field of sports cars start to battle for the win on the 2.5-mile Belle Isle course. These professional drivers are aware of the risk on track, but a cell phone is never one of them.
According to distraction.gov, distracted driving took over three thousand lives in 2014 alone, and “Forty percent of teens say that they’ve been in a car when a driver used a cell phone that ‘put people in danger’”.
The 20-year-old Mazda Prototype driver Tristan Nunez founded the ‘dnt txt n drv’ foundation to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.
“After a close call that I had when I was 15 years old with my own mother she was texting at the wheel while I was in the passenger’s seat…it was something that really hit home to me how easy it is to pick up the phone when your driving on the streets,” Nunez said.
Nunez then made it his mission to spread the word to students and parents around the country through safety fairs.
“We go with the racing… and speak to a couple schools and do some tours while I am home in the off season.”
He encourages that drivers not use their phones while on the road because it can be the difference between life and death.
“All of your focus should be on the road just like in a race car. If we slip up for one second, that’s us in a wall. Same thing on the street – if you slip up for one second focusing on something else, it could be your life,” Nunez said.
Nunez understands that raising awareness isn’t something he can do on his own.
“It is not just me out there that can make a change, it’s every peer that can make a difference and spread the word,” Nunez said.
The Mazda Prototype #55 team had its first podium of the season on Belle Isle and will be competing again June 30th-July 3rd at historic Watkins Glen International.