WHEATON – After receiving a car at the age of 17, a whole new world opened up for Ben Pohl.
Unfortunately, that world crumbled after the Iowa teenager lost control of his car after being distracted and taking his eyes off the road. The car flipped over in the median.
He spent six months in rehabilitation and had to learn how to eat and walk again. Pohl, now 37 and living in Carol Stream, spoke to Wheaton North High School students Nov. 10 about the dangers of distracted driving.
"What an idiot was I," Pohl told the students. "I had the car for three months and totally destroyed it... What if I was to tell you the other four people in the car died. What would you say? Luckily enough, they all survived. If I had killed four people, I probably couldn't live with myself."
Although none of them were wearing seat belts, his passengers escaped with only bumps and bruises. The crash happened in 1997, before the popularity of cellphones.
Pohl said he was distracted by the radio and his friends. He said he hopes people will learn from his story.
"It is so critical that you pay attention to everything," he said. "There are so many distractions out there. Cellphones, you can put away. You can consciously choose what distracts you."
Pohl said he recently met with state Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, and talked to him about opportunities to increase awareness about distracted driving.
"My accident has made me realize how precious life is," he said.
To read about Pohl's story or to request a speaking engagement, go to his website at benpohlspeaks.com.