Five years ago, a good friend of mine had to hear the words no parent wants to hear:
"Your daughter was involved in a terrible accident and didn't make it."
It was early in the morning Sept. 17, 2013, when Dublin resident Dom Tiberi received that devastating news.
His daughter, Maria, had hit the back of a stopped semi-truck in her car while traveling 53 mph.
We may never know exactly what caused the accident.
We do know Maria was not drinking and that she was not on her phone or texting.
But something had to have stolen her attention before she crashed that night. Something must have distracted her.
Since that fateful night five years ago, Dom and his family have made it their mission to educate the driving public and to ensure other families don't have to endure the same loss they experienced.
Dom has visited numerous local high schools to share his story with more than 70,000 students.
He has made appearances at local festivals, events and community gatherings to speak about the dangers of distracted driving.
He has also testified before the Ohio Senate Local Government, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs Committee, urging lawmakers to pass a Safe Driving Awareness Month bill.
As a result, we now use the month of September to stress the importance of safe driving this month and always.
Improving traffic safety is one of the Dublin Police Department's primary goals.
A big part of achieving that goal is educating the community about distracted driving.
Distracted driving is doing anything that takes your mind or eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel.
Eating, talking and texting all limit your ability to drive a vehicle safely. Those are just a few examples.
In addition to education, the city of Dublin has a unique distracted driving ordinance.
Under Dublin's ordinance, a driver can be pulled over and issued a citation for distracted driving. It's a primary offense.
Dublin police will be watching closely for signs that someone is distracted -- looking down instead of at the road, fluctuating speeds, swerving on the roadway and breaking other traffic laws.
In addition, our officers will be patrolling high-crash areas to target unsafe drivers.
Our officers watch for these behaviors year-round, but Safe Driving Awareness Month is an opportunity to talk more about it and raise awareness.
I would encourage you to use this month to spread the message of safe driving with your friends and family.
I would also like to invite you to help mark the 5-year anniversary of Maria's passing by joining Dom for Maria's Ride on Sunday, Sept. 16.
A procession of 300 cars will start at Dublin Coffman High School (Maria's alma mater) and end at the Schottenstein Center on the Ohio State University campus.
Registration is at 8 a.m. and the ride will begin at 9 a.m. The closing event will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
You can also learn more about distracted driving by heading to DublinOhioUSA.gov/distracted-driving.
When you're behind the wheel, just drive. It's that simple.
Dublin police Chief Heinz von Eckartsberg submitted the City Notes column.