BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - It only took a second for Jessica Ann Butler to lose her life in a distracted driving crash. Now her cousin Alex Rudick is dedicating her life to making sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.
“I don’t want anyone to go through what my family went through, seeing the look on her parents face. No one should go through that,” says Rudick.
She was only 15 when Jessica was killed. The 28 year old checked a text message before slamming into the back of an 18 wheeler.
“I can’t take back what happened I wish I could, but I can’t. but I want to make something of this. I don’t want her death to be something that is just hurtful. I want to make her story more than just that. More than just her looking at a text. Her life is worth so much more than that; every life is worth more than that,” says Rudick fighting back tears.
Since that day in May of 2017, Rudick has become a passionate advocate for staying focused on the road. She was just learning to drive when she lost her cousin, and started making videos to raise awareness for her driver’s ed classes. She says her goal is to make everyone realize that distractions in the car can be deadly, and it’s not just about phones.
“I want to speak to everybody. My videos are about everybody, reaching everyone. Distracted driving didn’t just start. The phone is a main distraction now but it didn’t just start,” says Rudick.
The videos turned into a website and then into a campaign to change the law in Alabama. A new distracted driving bill is going before the House committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security this week.
“It’s all about sharing the road and making decisions not just for yourself but for others,” says Rudick.
Her work earned her a coveted Girl scout National Gold Award. She says the award is only possible because of Jessica and she’s glad to have a platform to reach more people, and hopefully save more lives.
“This just means so much to me. Nobody should have to go through this. It’s hard every day. It’s hard for her parents every day. Hard for her brother.
“All it takes is one second. One second to look down. One second to turn around.. to change everything. It changed my life and changed my family’s life,” says Rudick. “I know things are going to happen and mistakes are made but when someone hears a story like Jessica’s it can make them think twice, maybe I shouldn’t get my phone out, maybe I should stay focused this time.”
You can see more of Jessica’s story and learn about the latest distracted driving legislation on Rudick’s website.