Free, online comic book raises awareness about the dangers of distracted driving

Connecticut Families

(WTNH) — “Our father was an avid motorcyclist,” says Jamie Labonosky, of her dad, Ben, a tall guy with a big heart. In July of 2017, he was out for a ride near Hebron.

“He was slowing his motorcycle to take a left hand turn when he was rear-ended by a 19-year-old driver who did not apply his brakes until after impact,” she says, noting that it was suspected the driver was looking at his cell phone. The 57-year-old father of Jess and Jamie died several days later.

“I think anger just built and built,” says Jess. “It took awhile for that to settle down.”

The sisters wrote an emotional post about their dad’s “tragic and senseless death” for the organization End Distracted Driving.

“Their belief is that educating youth is really going to help turn the curve on this and I think we believe that, too,” says Jamie.

That’s why they support a unique effort by Travelers. “The Legend of Z-Hawk” is a newly released comic book that raises awareness by telling the unfinished story of Zaadii, a young Arizona boy who loved superheroes. He was also killed by a distracted driver.

“We do hope it makes a difference,” says John Morris, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Travelers.

According to data gathered by the insurance company, in-hand phone use – including swiping and typing – increased in drivers in March and April.

“Even with the pandemic, fatalities in the state of Connecticut this year were up,” adds Morris.

The Labonoskys hope the comic book opens eyes and that the loss of their dad – and Zaadii – causes a driver to think twice before making a dangerous choice.

“We have to increase the awareness that it’s about respect,” says Jamie.

Want to share the comic book with your teens? Click here to read it for free.

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