WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2016
On Tuesday, October 4, 2016, Bellefontaine High School hosted "Maria's Message", a program inspired by the story of Maria Tiberi and created and shared by her father Dom Timberi.
About Maria Tiberi
In 2013, Maria was a senior at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio and a Graphics Design Major. Shortly before 11 p.m. on Sept. 17, Tiberi was driving south on I-270 when her car crashed into the rear of a semi stopped in heavy traffic at Cemetery Road. An investigation by Hilliard police found no sign that Tiberi had applied the brakes. No erratic driving was reported, the car had no mechanical failures, and Tiberi’s system was clear of alcohol and drugs. She was wearing a seat belt, driving the speed limit, and her phone was in her purse on the floor of the back seat. Investigators said her cellphone was on and functioning, but there was no evidence that she was using it at the time of the crash. Something distracted her, but no one has ever figured out what the distraction was (details shared courtesy of a Nov. 27 2013 article about the crash in the Columbus Dispatch).
About Maria's Message
Maria's Message was started to help raise awareness of all types of driving distractions and prevent as many distraction related accidents as possible.
Dom is committed to taking Maria's Message to as many young drivers as he can. His Maria's Message presentation is designed for High School audiences. Dom gives the students the parent's perspective and encourages them to take the Maria's Message pledge to be safe drivers. In the year from April, 2014 to April, 2015, Dom delivered Maria's Message to 54 Central Ohio High Schools and more than 30,000 young people.
Two of our agents, Carrie Reynolds and Trevor Beazley, attended Maria's Message at BHS to show support for the program and further demonstrate our commitment to educating teen drivers about the responsibilities of driving and insurance basics. We have worked with teen drivers since we opened in 1988 and work very hard to keep teen drivers safe. Erie Insurance, one of the companies we represent, is a major sponsor of Maria's Message and their representatives were also in attendance. In the picture below are Left to Right: Rob Smith- Erie Insurance, Carrie Reynolds- Alan Galvez Insurance, Trevor Beazley- Alan Galvez Insurance, Dom Tiberi, and Ray Cogan- Erie Insurance.
To say the presentation was powerful would be a massive understatement. Maria's Message is not an easy one to hear, but above all it is a message of love. Love for Maria, Love for young people and Love of community. He described the evening of the accident, when she left the house, her last words, the 7 police officers who showed up on his doorstep at 2 o'clock in the morning to tell him his daughter had died in a car accident. Going to the hospital to identify her body. His words are powerful; "I went to the hospital and saw my baby girl lying on a gurney. And I wanted to take her home. But I had to leave her. And I don't want you to be left behind."
At the conclusion, he asked everyone in attendance to repeat a distracted driving pledge with him. Then he asked the students to complete a pledge card and drop it in a basket on their way out.
He ended the program with this message- "You matter. You are important. You are loved."
The Maria Tiberi Foundation and its impact on Bellefontaine and Logan County
In addition to spreading Maria's Message, the Tiberi family started the Maria Tiberi Foundation, a non-profit organization that through the donations of many supporters, has provided 30 driving simulators to various schools and law enforcement organizations. In 2016, 2 simulators were donated to the Bellefontaine Police Department and Logan County Sheriff's Office, spearheaded by Dr. Brent Swartz and Rotary Club of Bellefontaine. Funds for one simulator were donated by Rotary, as well as several local businesses. The Maria Tiberi Foundation funded the second simulator. We are so pleased that we were one of the contributing businesses. You can read more details about this project, including the presentation of the simulators to the department and our contribution to the cause. A simulator was on display during the presentation and it was available during the week for students to try. You can see a picture of the simulator to the right.
For more information about the Maria Tiberi Foundation and Maria's Message, please visit their website.
Additional Resources for Teen Drivers and their Parents
We speak to newly licensed drivers (and sometimes their parents sit in). We talk about the responsibilities of driving, common distractions and how to avoid them, what to do in case of an accident, and insurance basics. We also show a distracted driving video. In addition to these talks, we also have several helpful resources on our website, including several articles and a report geared towards parents. All these resources are absolutely FREE. We've compiled a list of the most popular below. PLEASE feel free to read and share. We are very lucky to report that in 28 years in business, we have NEVER had a teen driver fatality. We work very hard to make sure that continues.
Beginning Teenage Drivers: What Parents Can Do to Help
When Should my kid get his own Ohio car insurance?
4 Key Rules for Buying Safer Cars for Your Teens
Teenage Drivers and Auto Insurance: Tips to Keep Them Safe and Help You Save Money
This is our Comprehensive Report that offers the following: Lots of helpful safety tips (several will surprise you!), Insider tips to save money on your auto insurance and Vehicle recommendations for both safety and cost savings (and yes you CAN have both). Download it today, FREE!
It comes Full Circle
We are very thankful to have come full circle with spreading the word about distracted driving in Bellefontaine and Logan County- from the initial idea presented by Dr. Swartz, to the full embrace of the project by Rotary Club of Bellefontaine and various local businesses, law enforcement and city officials, fundraising and the final presentation to law enforcement and the community. Bringing Dom to BHS to deliver Maria's Message brought it all home. And we thank him tremendously. As I overheard him say to an attendee, "I don't know how you listen to this. I can barely say it myself." Thank you Mr. Tiberi for sharing your story. We listen because it's a message worth repeating. Because if it saves even one life, it's worth it. Because as you so eloquently put it, "You matter. You are important. You are loved."
We are thankful for the opportunity to educate our young drivers. If you have questions how we can help you and your teen driver, please call us at (937) 592-4871 or visit our website to contact us.
Additional photos from the program are below.......................
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