(TOLEDO, Ohio – April 8, 2014) – Justin Boston knows what it means to stay focused behind the wheel of a car. As a full-time driver for Venturini Motorsports in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, Boston travels at high rates of speed with dozens of other cars on small and short tracks across the country.
“It takes a lot of focus to drive a race car, and a lot of focus to drive a regular car down the street,” Boston said.
This year, Boston is the national spokesperson for People Against Distracted Driving (PADD). Founded in 2012, PADD is the creation of Mike Kellenyi in memory of his 18-year-old daughter, Nikki, who tragically lost her life in a car crash as a result of a distracted driver, one month prior to her high school prom.
“It’s a big problem,” Boston said. “I’m trying to do all I can to help spread the word. People need to be aware.”
According to statistics provided by PADD, 23 percent of all motor vehicle accidents (1.3 million crashes) involved cell phones. In addition, text messaging while driving makes an accident 23 times more likely, with the longest eyes-off-the-road time of all distracted driving activities. Even more concerning, 77 percent of young adults are very or somewhat confident that they can safely text while driving.
As part of their year-long initiative, Boston and Venturini Motorsports will provide a PADD-donated U.S. Department of Transportation-approved - “Stay Alive Don’t Text and Drive” sign to racing venues and local governments for placement along roadways near each track on the schedule. Tuesday, with Venturini Motorsports testing at Salem Speedway Fueled by the Hoosier Lottery, a sign presentation was made to track officials.
This community service safety initiative will bring ‘PADD’s’ message to 12 different states (Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania & Wisconsin).
A special event is planned at New Jersey Motorsports Park when the ARCA Racing Series visit the venue in June.
“Racing is a high exposure sport with millions of fans stretched across the nation. If our involvement within the sport and commitment to promote safe and responsible driving through our relationship with PADD influences one person to think before texting and driving, we’ve accomplished our goal,” said Tom Venturini.
“This is more than just putting a name in a newspaper; it’s a family-oriented deal,” Kellenyi said. “My family’s wrecked because of what happened, and I don’t want it to happen to anyone else.”
After PADD’s successful lobbying for “Nikki’s Law,” which requires the New Jersey Department of Transportation to warn motorists not to text while behind the wheel, Gov. Chris Christie signed the legislation last August. Later, the state introduced further distracted driving legislation, which provides tougher financial and legal penalties for offenders of the texting and handheld cell phone law.
“For me to say I’m so excited, it’s almost like I shouldn’t say it, because in losing Nikki, It’s difficult to be happy or excited about anything,” Kellenyi said. “But I am; this is huge. The Venturinis are a really down-to-earth family, normal people. It’s a family-run business, a perfect fit, and exactly what we were hoping for in a venture with anybody. It’s the right image. They’re good people who want to help young kids get behind the wheel and into racing.
PADD supports distracted driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving anyone who needs help 24 hours a day at 1-234-738-DTAD (3823). More information is available at PADD.org.
About Venturini Motorsports
Venturini Motorsports (VMS), fielding cars for over 30-years in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, is one of the premier NASCAR driver development programs in the country. Multiple team championships and consistent on-track success, VMS has evolved into one of the most recognizable names in motorsports. Since 2007, VMS has assisted in the career development of notable NASCAR drivers such as Joey Logano, Justin Allgaier, Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Brian Scott, Kevin Swindell, John Wes Townley and Erik Jones. Over the years the Venturini name has become synonymous with modern-day racing in America. In 2012, the Venturini family was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame (www.NIASHF.org) and now find themselves enshrined with such sports icons as Joe DiMaggio, Mario Andretti, Vince Lombardi, Tommy Lasorda and Rocky Marciano.
- By Doug Donnelly, arcaracing.com