TRUSSVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) — Alex Rudick’s mission to spread awareness and discourage distracted driving began with a family tragedy.
“My cousin Jessica passed away in May of 2017,” Alex Rudick, 17, said.
Following Jessica Butler’s passing, her cousin Rudick wanted to get the word out about the dangers of distracted driving – and fast.
“And it was basically about don’t do this, don’t get on your phone while driving. Don’t text, don’t call.”
Rudick wanted to drill home that distracted driving is more than just texting.
It was that sort of out-of-the-box thinking that quickly got the attention of North Central Alabama Girl Scouts CEO, Karen Peterlin. The next question Peterlin asked Rudick was a big one.
“[Peterlin] was like, why don’t you change the law? And I was like okay, I will!”
“Our gold award girl scouts are the best, we say,” CEO of Girl Scouts of North Central Alabama Karen Peterlin said. “But Alex is one of the best of the best.”
While pursuing her Gold Award, she made her message and stance against distracted driving heard, additionally reaching out to advocacy groups like Stopdistractions.org. CEO Jennifer Smith said Rudick has helped grow the movement.
“She’s giving me great ideas,” Jennifer Smith, CEO of Stopdistractions.org said. She told me ideas of what she was doing at the capital and I was like, oh you’re good.”
“You just tell her I need this from you and she’ll do it. Her eloquence with words, the way she puts things in a really real way. She’s just one of those exceptional ladies.”
Smith and stopdistractions.org have worked to pass hands-free laws in other states like Georgia. She said Alex’s story will help pass a similar law here in Alabama.
“We knew we would get it out of the house, we got it to the senate floor,” Smith said. During the senate committee, that’s when you come testify, so that’s when Alex was going to come and share her story.”
Smith said Rudick’s effort, confidence and story will hopefully be what a person needs to make the right move.
“She has a platform where more people will hear her story. Maybe more people can be reached, think twice before they reach for snapchat and think ‘oh no – I remember hearing Jessica’s story.’”
As Rudick wraps up her pre-college life this year, she’s looking forward to heading to the senate floor to advocate for the hands-free law.
“It’s not that I’m not nervous. Because this project is about Jessica. And when you put your heart into something, nothing is going to stop you.”
The Rudicks predict they’ll be speaking from the senate floor once legislators are back from break by February.
You can find Rudick’s National Gold Award Project videos here.
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