Nine years ago, Buncombe County teenager Ashley Johnson was driving to a tutoring job when she crossed the center line and hit a truck head-on. Investigators determined that she was trying to read a text message on her phone when she was killed.
Rather than have her two-door BMW crushed, Ashley’s family donated it to VIP for a VIP Inc., a nonprofit, volunteer organization founded by Greensboro firefighters in 1998. The group reattached the roof that firefighters had cut from the BMW to free Ashley, then put the crumpled car, the air bag still deployed, on a trailer with signs explaining what happened to her.
Macon County native and House of Representative Kevin Corbin has garnered national attention since introducing House Bill 144, the “Hands Free NC Act” earlier this year.
Rep. Corbin’s bill would prohibit drivers from using a hand-held phone to talk, play games, watch video or access the internet while driving, including while stopped at a traffic light. Using a speakerphone or a Bluetooth system would still be allowed. Drivers caught violating the law face a $100 fine the first time, with higher fines and points on the driver’s license that could increase insurance rates for subsequent violations.
On April 27, Ashley’s car will be on display in Macon County at Safe Kids Macon County’s Safety Town event at the Robert C. Carpenter Community building from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Rep. Corbin will be on hand during the event to discuss the legislation and tell Ashley’s story.
Safe Kids Macon County’s annual Safety Town event is hosted in partnership with Franklin Daybreak Rotary and features all things safety and all things children. In addition to Ashley’s car display, the event will feature a car seat checking station, bicycle rodeo, more than a dozen vendors with giveaways and games, and an Emergency Vehicle Car Show. The Macon County Sheriff’s K9 program will be on hand doing a live demonstration and local fire departments from across Western North Carolina will be providing fire safety information.