Distracted by the Memory of a Cupcake: Heading to Yonkers for #DistractedDriving Event

7 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

Magnolia cupcakeThe Big Apple, Sort Of

I'm on my way to New York today. It will be a much quicker trip than the last time I was there. In fact, I will barely even notice that I am a mere 30 minutes from a Magnolia Bakery Cupcake {sigh....at least that's what I keep telling myself}.

This trip to New York has a much different purpose. On this trip, I'll be heading North from the Big Apple. I'm on my way to the Consumer Reports Headquarters in Yonkers to discuss distracted driving.

Distracted Driving Event

A few weeks ago, I was invited by Consumers Union, Consumer Reports' publisher, to join the panel discussion at this event. After a quick checking and shuffling of schedules, I agreed. This is an issue that I feel strongly about and have written about several times. It's a topic that lands people on Motherly Law almost daily based on their search engine queries regarding distracted driving. I feel honored to participate in this event that will hopefully lead to a greater awareness and focus which will in turn lead to fewer deaths, injuries and accidents and near accidents in the coming years.

Here is the information for the Distracted Driving Event on Monday, March 7, 2011, in Yonkers, NY, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation and Consumer Reports.

An Event Sponsored By Consumer Reports and the Department of Transportation

Distracted Driving Shatters Lives: Helping Parents and Educators Reach Teens

Monday, March 7, 2011, 11:00a – 2:00p 

Consumers Union Headquarters
101 Truman Ave
Yonkers, NY 10703 (map)

Please RSVP to Janice Smith by email c-smitja@consumer.org or phone 914-378-2726.

For those who can't attend in person, please join the event online at 11a ET (10a CT, 8a PT) by going to Consumer Reports' Facebook pageand clicking the "Live" tab.


11:00a Introduction by Jim Guest, President and CEO, Consumers Union
11:05a Welcome from Secretary Ray LaHood, Department of Transportation 
11:15a Survivor story, Jacy Good, FocusDriven 
11:20a Survey Findings from Consumer Reports National Research Center presented by Donato Vaccaro, Associate Director, Survey Research 
11:25a Questions from the media 

11:45a Break, lunch available

11:55a Panel Discussion and Audience Q & A
            Rik Paul, Automotive Editor, Consumers Union
           Anna Berend, Blogger, Motherly Law
           Mary Broderick, President-Elect, National School Boards Association
           Jacy Good, Board Member, Focus Driven
           Shannon Trice, Captain, Syracuse Police Department

12:45p Closing remarks from Sec. LaHood and Jim Guest about the nationwide efforts to reach parents and educators.

1:15p Tour of National Testing Labs with Consumers Union experts.

Helpful Links:


Transportation Options:

Driving Directions from New York City to Consumers Union (approx 20 miles): Take Henry Hudson Parkway North to Saw Mill Parkway North. Get off at Exit 9, Executive Blvd. The northbound exit is a "jug handle" that exits on the right. Go through the lights across Nepperhan Avenue. Take the second right onto Truman Avenue. Free visitors parking will be on the right.

Consumers Union will be offering a shuttle service from Manhattan to Yonkers. 
9:45a Pick up in Manhattan near 34th Street & 8th Avenue right outside of Penn Station
2:15p Bus to from Consumers Union to Manhattan's Penn Station 
*As space is limited please email Janice Smith at c-smitja@consumer.org to secure a seat on the bus. 

For private car service to and from the city or local airports, contact Blue Chip Limousine, Inc. (877) 771-8161limo@bluechiplimo.com

Speakers and Panelists:



Ray LaHood
Secretary of Transportation

Ray LaHood became the 16th Secretary of Transportation on January 23, 2009.

In nominating him, President-elect Obama said, "Few understand our infrastructure challenge better than the outstanding public servant that I'm asking to lead the Department of Transportation."

Secretary LaHood's primary goals in implementing President Obama's priorities for transportation include safety across all modes, restoring economic health and creating jobs, sustainability – shaping the economy of the coming decades by building new transportation infrastructure, and assuring that transportation policies focus on people who use the transportation system and their communities.

As Secretary of Transportation, LaHood leads an agency with more than 55,000 employees and a $70 billion budget that oversees air, maritime and surface transportation missions.

Secretary LaHood said he would bring President-elect Obama's priorities to the Department and see them effectively implemented with a commitment to fairness across regional and party lines and between people who come to the issues with different perspectives.

Before becoming Secretary of Transportation, LaHood served for 14 years in the U.S. House of Representatives from the 18th District of Illinois (from 1995-2009).  During that time he served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and, after that, on the House Appropriations Committee.  Prior to his election to the House, he served as Chief of Staff to U.S. Congressman Robert Michel, whom he succeeded in representing the 18th District, and as District Administrative Assistant to Congressman Thomas Railsback.  He also served in the Illinois State Legislature.

Before his career in government, Secretary LaHood was a junior high school teacher, having received his degree from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois.  He was also director of the Rock Island County Youth Services Bureau and Chief planner for the Bi-States Metropolitan Planning Commission in Illinois.

LaHood and his wife, Kathy, have four children (Darin, Amy, Sam, and Sara) and nine grandchildren.



James A. Guest
President, CEO, Consumers Union

Mr. Guest became President and Chief Executive Officer of Consumers Union (CU) in February 2001 after a long career in public service and the consumer interest, including 21 years as Chair of CU's Board of Directors. Consumers Union is an expert, independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers. CU publishes Consumer Reports and ConsumerReports.org. The organization was founded in 1936 when advertising first flooded the mass media. Consumers lacked any reliable source of information they could depend on to help them distinguish hype from fact and good products from bad ones. Since then CU has filled that vacuum with a broad range of consumer information and a succession of presidents serving as passionate and outspoken consumer champions.

Mr. Guest continues that tradition, fighting on Capitol Hill and in the media for the consumer's right to know about, and be protected from, unsafe and misleading products and services. Under his leadership, the organization is currently pursuing a high-profile campaign to improve the safety, quality, accessibility, and value of the health-care marketplace. This has included the successful launch of several new initiatives such as ConsumerReportsHealth.org and the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, which serve to educate and empower consumers to make more informed health-care decisions and to help change the market.

As the CEO of one of the leading nonprofits in America, Mr. Guest has transformed the mission-driven organization into a multimedia publisher that engages regularly with its readers, including more than 8 million subscribers to CU's products and services and 600,000 online activists. He oversees revenues of more than $200 million and a staff of more than 600 who work at CU's 50 state-of-the-art labs in Yonkers, N.Y., 327-acre auto test facility in East Haddam, Conn., and three advocacy offices in Washington, Austin, and San Francisco. Mr. Guest also serves on the board of Consumers International, a global federation of 250 organizations from 115 countries.

Mr. Guest's public service career has spanned more than three decades. After graduating from Harvard law school and completing a Woodrow Wilson fellowship in economics at MIT, he worked as legislative assistant to Senator Ted Kennedy. In the early 1970s, Mr. Guest moved to Vermont where he served as Banking and Insurance Commissioner, Secretary of State, and Secretary of Development and Community Affairs.

Over the last 20 years, he has headed several public policy and advocacy groups including Handgun Control Inc. and the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, as well as Planned Parenthood of Maryland. He was also the founding Executive Director of the American Pain Foundation, a national consumer information, education, and advocacy organization for pain prevention and management.

Mr. Guest credits his very first job for introducing him to one of his biggest influences in consumer advocacy. He worked as the paperboy for Dr. Colston Warne—the first Chair of CU's Board of Directors and a leader in the consumer movement.



Representative Nita Lowey 
New York's 18th District 

Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey is currently serving her twelfth term in Congress, representing parts of Westchester and Rockland Counties. She was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1988 and served in the Democratic Leadership in 2001 and 2002 as the first woman and the first New Yorker to chair the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Lowey has been described as "courageous" by The New York Times, "terrific" by Newsday, and one of "New York's key Members of Congress" by the New York Daily News. The Journal News called Lowey "one of the most influential Members of Congress."

A member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, Lowey serves as Ranking Democrat of the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee and a senior Member of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee and the Homeland Security Subcommittee. Lowey is as an extremely effective, committed legislator with a substantial record. Congressional Quarterly called her one of the 50 most effective Members of Congress, saying she "maneuvers skillfully through the appropriations process," and Newsday said she "delivers for New York."

Few members of Congress have taken key leadership roles on so many vital public policy issues. Lowey is a leading Congressional proponent of educational opportunity, health care quality and biomedical research, improved homeland security preparedness, stricter public safety laws, environmental protection, women's issues, a leading international role for the United States, and national security.

Lowey is a strong advocate for women, children, and families. She has been a champion of education throughout her career, fighting for school modernization, teacher development, and literacy programs. Under Lowey's leadership, federal funding for after-school programs has increased from $1 million in 1996 to $1 billion today. 

Lowey was born in the Bronx; graduated from the Bronx High School of Science; and received a Bachelor's Degree from Mount Holyoke College. She served as Assistant Secretary of State for the State of New York before being elected to Congress. Nita and Stephen Lowey have been married for more than 45 years and have three grown children and eight grandchildren.

Full bio at http://lowey.house.gov/


Anna Berend
Blogger, Motherly Law

Anna Berend is an attorney and professional writer. Berend authors the blog, Motherly Law, where she discusses laws and legal issues that affect families and offers tips and resources pertaining to these issues. Through Motherly Law, Berend has addressed distracted driving, estate planning for parents of minors, bike helmet laws, food safety laws, child custody issues, domestic violence, bullying, etc.  She is active on a number of social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook. Berend has spent her legal career researching and writing for several state courts and a legal publishing company. She currently works from home as an independent contractor for a legal publishing company when she's not writing a post for her blog, tweeting or wrangling her two spirited boys.

Berend posts daily on Motherly Law and has been featured in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, BlogHer and Twin Cities Spark. Additionally, various Motherly Law posts have been syndicated by MinnPost and MPR.org.

Berend is married to a supportive and conveniently tech savvy guy and mom to two young boys. She is a Texas native, a member of the Oklahoma Bar Association and resident of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Berend is a graduate of Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, and the University of Oklahoma College of Law. You can find her at www.motherlylaw.com, on Twitter {@MotherlyLaw} and on Facebook {Motherly Law}.


Mary Brodrick
President-Elect, National School Boards Association

Mary Broderick was elected to serve as President-elect of the National School Board Association in April 2010.  She has served on the Association's Board of Directors since 2005, representing the Northeast Region from 2005 - 2009.  

Broderick has been a member of the East Lyme Board of Education in Connecticut since 1989.   Her advocacy leadership extends to state and regional levels, too.  She is a past president of the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education.  Broderick served as a committee member on the Connecticut State Department of Education on Universal Pre-kindergarten working with the Governor and regional offices on preschool education and the achievement gap.  She served as a member of her congressmember's Education Roundtable.  She also represented the state association on a state-wide committee on teacher recruitment and retention, as well as the Connecticut Department of Education and Mental Health Taskforce.   From 1994-1999, she co-chaired a regional forum on the issue of quality and diversity in education.  She also served as president of her regional education service center.

Broderick has presented at several national conferences and workshops and has authored articles in national publications on educational quality and diversity.

The mother of two grown children, Broderick lives in East Lyme, Connecticut.  She works with 10 communities on efforts to improve odds of early school success as an educational consultant with the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund and she fosters dialogue about educational issues as a consultant with Community Conversations.  She is finishing her doctorate in educational leadership at the University of Connecticut.


Jacy Good
Board Member, Focus Driven

In May 2008, Jacy Good and her parents were driving home after her graduation from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania when a driver talking on a cell phone caused a crash that sent their vehicle careening into a tractor-trailer.  The accident left Jacy with permanent injuries and took the lives of her parents, Jean and Jay Good.  Jacy spent four months in the hospital and still spends most of her time in physical and occupational therapy.  In the summer of 2010, Jacy joined the board of FocusDriven, the first national nonprofit organization devoted specifically to raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.


Rik Paul
Automotive Editor, Consumer Reports

Rik Paul has been Consumer Reports' Automotive Editor since June 2000.  He leads a staff of seven auto editors and writers and is responsible for automotive editorial content in all Consumer Reports print and online publications. Mr. Paul and Auto Test Senior Director David Champion co-authored Consumer Reports' 384-page Smart Buyer's Guide to Buying or Leasing a Car.

As a 30-year veteran of the automotive publishing field, he has worked for several auto publications. Prior to joining Consumer Reports, he was Senior Feature Editor at Motor Trend magazine in Los Angeles for nine years. In addition to writing road tests and other editorial features, Mr. Paul coordinated the publication's award programs and daily "Motor Trend Minute" radio spots. In earlier days, he also authored several do-it-yourself automotive repair manuals for Haynes Publications.

Mr. Paul has driven a myriad of vehicles in places ranging from Borneo and Morocco to above the Arctic Circle (in four countries), and has participated in events ranging from a winter circumnavigation of Iceland to the Baja 1000. A native of New Jersey, he has also taught mountaineering for the Sierra Club and enjoys photography, travel, and exploring new places—especially in a great car.


Shannon Trice 
Captain, Syracuse Police Department

Captain Shannon Trice is a graduate of Cornell University and the FBI National Academy. He has a long and distinguished career in law enforcement with a career-long interest in traffic enforcement. At the Syracuse Police Department, he is the Commanding Officer at a national, state, and local award winning Traffic Division.  The Traffic Division is currently working with the U.S. Department of Transportation on an important demonstration program testing the effectiveness of high-visibility enforcement of distracted driving laws. The management team of Captain Trice and Sergeant Joel Cordone are directing the Division's use of innovative techniques for enforcing the New York State handheld cell phone law.  These approaches show great promise as a means for changing critical distracted driving behaviors.


Donato Vaccaro
Associate Director, Survey Research, Consumers Union

As Associate Director of Survey Research at the Consumer Reports' National Research Center, Donato is responsible for surveys designed to yield editorial content in all of CR's outlets.  Donato is responsible for the production of the online version of Annual Questionnaire where, combined with print surveys, more than 1 million CR readers report on their experiences and provide ratings of consumers goods (including cars, electronics and home products) and services (e.g., restaurants, telecommunications, retailers).  In addition, Donato manages several targeted CR surveys such as the Annual Cell Phone Service Survey and the Annual State of the Net Survey.

Donato has been conducting survey research for nearly 25-years including 17 years at CR and 6 six years previous when he worked at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York on federally funded research grants surveying adolescents about drug, smoking and alcohol use.  A native New Yorker, Donato is also a licensed NY state psychologist and in his spare time enjoys coaching and other volunteer work with his sons' sports programs.

The Scoop

On Monday, I will be posting the points I hope to make as a panel member. In the photo, you will see what I’ll be reading on the airplane: UnMarketing by Scott Stratten, a Consumer Reports Magazine, plus all my research in the folder.Flight reading materials

If you’re the praying type, please say a prayer for me that I get there without any delays or issues and that I have a voice on Monday {struggling with a cold and icky cough}.

The highlights: 1) I’m looking forward to meeting some of the amazing people from Focus Driven and Consumer Reports/Consumers Union; and 2) I get to go on a tour of the Consumer Reports Labs where they do all the testing! Over and out...



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