When those pleas are attached to a human face — a life lost, a life saved — it can change the entire paradigm.
With that, we offer the story of Elizabeth Ainsworth. Her friends called her Libbie.
Libbie, from Coppell, Texas, came to Alabama to study interior design at Auburn University, the Opelika-Auburn News has reported. She joined a sorority, Phi Mu. She met an Auburn football player, Drew Cole, from Picayune, Miss., whom she began to date.
Last Sunday, Libbie was riding in her boyfriend’s Toyota pickup as they sped along U.S. 280 in western Lee County. Cole, who was driving, lost control of the pickup, which flipped toward the median. Cole’s injuries weren’t serious.
Libbie’s were. She was ejected from the pickup and soon airlifted to a Columbus, Ga., hospital with severe trauma to her brain. She died Monday afternoon. Her funeral is this weekend in Texas.
Libbie Ainsworth was 20.
Officials said Cole told state troopers he was typing the address of a sporting-goods store into his truck’s GPS device just before the accident, The News reported. Cole, a senior, may soon face traffic-related homicide charges that stem from his girlfriend’s accidental death and his admitted actions as he was driving.
It is story of immense sorrow. Spinning it otherwise is impossible. “We are heartbroken and saddened by this tragedy,” Ainsley Carry, Auburn University’s vice president for student affairs, said. “Libbie will certainly never be forgotten.”
Let’s be clear: Drew Cole has not been charged; in fact, no charges may be filed. Officials say the investigation is ongoing.
Yet, Cole’s statement to troopers — that he was distracted just before the fatal crash — gives legislators all the urging they need to ban all forms of texting while driving in Alabama. Thirty-five states already ban it. Why shouldn’t Alabama join them?
That it would be a difficult law to enforce isn’t an excuse for lawmakers, particularly the state Senate, the death trap of good ideas. Neither are lobbyists for cell-phone companies or anyone else who might oppose a statewide ban.
Distracted driving causes accidents. And of everything that can distract us — crying babies, the car radio, cell phones, conversations with passengers, eating lunch — texting is at the top of the list.
This unfortunate story shouldn’t be forgotten when Alabama’s legislators return to work next month.