What and why?
Texting and talking while driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Most people are not aware that in 2018 there were 400,000 people injured in motor vehicle crashes, with 2,841 of them fatal, due to not paying attention to the road. Many individuals are on their cellphones, eating food, or are doing some other work instead of focusing on what’s ahead.
The National Safety Council is taking on the challenge to help raise awareness of our driving habits on our roads and improve road safety for all road users by facilitating the National Distracted Driver Awareness Month in October 2020 (normally in April, but it was pushed due to challenges with Covid-19).
In support of this cause, stunt driver Brett Solomano will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for reversing a truck and semi trailer the longest distance ever without stopping, a distance of 50+ miles (80km). The record breaking event will take place in Atlanta, Georgia, USA on September 30th.
Date: September 30, 2020
Time: Early afternoon
Location: Turner Field – Gold Lot in Atlanta, GA
But let’s start with you. How many times do you touch your phone while driving? Do you engage with any other non-driving related activities while in control of a vehicle? How can you improve the safety of yourself and others in the community on the road with you?
(Brett Solomano, Stunt Performer)
THE LONGEST TRUCK REVERSE EVENT PROUDLY BENEFITS THE NATIONAL SAFETY COUNCIL.
Longest Truck Reverse
STUNT PERFORMER BRETT SOLOMANO ATTEMPTS TO BREAK THE GUINNESS WORLD RECORD FOR REVERSING A TRUCK AND SEMI TRAILER THE LONGEST DISTANCE WITHOUT STOPPING IN SUPPORT OF DRIVING UNDISTRACTED.
Stunt hustle nation • support the cause and take the just drive pledge to encourage safe driving
TAKE THE PLEDGE.
It’s about your safety and the safety of others on the road.
Pledge to Just Drive and stay focused on the road ahead.
The pledge is:
I, [YOUR NAME], pledge to Just Drive for my own safety and for others with whom I share the roads. I choose to not drive distracted in any way – I will not:
Have a phone conversation – handheld, hands-free, or via Bluetooth
Text or send Snapchats
Use voice-to-text features in my vehicle’s dashboard system
Update Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo or other social media
Check or send emails
Take selfies or film videos
Input destinations into GPS (while the vehicle is in motion)
Call or message someone else when I know they are driving
Getting to know Brett Solomano and the Pledge to Just Drive.
Tell us a little about yourself and your career as a stuntman!
I always loved watching action movies as a kid and so moved out of my small country town in Australia when I was 18 to Melbourne which was the closest film and tv industry hub for me.
My favorite films were movies like Speed, Bad Boys and The Matrix Reloaded because of their amazing vehicular sequences so I wanted to focus more on the driving aspects of stunts.
I was lucky enough to be mentored by a couple of the best stunt drivers in Australia at the time and their advice to me was always that if you want to get good at something expensive like driving "it's good to be paid to practice."
With that, between film work, I took up driving just about everything I could get my hands on: double decker buses, hummer limousines, earth moving equipment, double trailer semis... I've also been a truck driving instructor and drift instructor. Thankfully I love driving and could drive anything for days at a time.
Many Australians admire Americans and the size and quality of projects that are created here in the US film industry and so many attempt to make the trek across the Pacific. I'm one of the lucky ones to have both gotten a visa to be let in but also to have found a home and work here in Atlanta and I'm very grateful to be here.
Tell the world about the National Safety Council’s Distracted Driver Awareness Month.
The National Safety Council is running Distracted Driver Awareness Month in October (moved from April this year due to Covid-19) as a way to get people to stop and think about their habits while on the road, and to put down their phones and "just drive."
Current statistics say that some 80% of crashes on US roads are influenced or added to in some way by at least one driver being distracted by something like a phone and not being as attentive to their driving.
Unlike stunt drivers who are constantly training to better themselves, often commuter drivers once they get their license, don't challenge themselves to be better drivers and instead just "get by" on the skills they have. Habits with driving, just like with anything else in life, slowly change and even deteriorate over time if not corrected so it can be very important to keep raising your own personal level of intention to focus while driving.
The National Safety Council is committed to improving the driving conditions and behaviors of all road users for the safety of those on the road and off. Because of this we are requesting donations on behalf of NSC and are also asking people to take the "Just Drive" pledge to remain focused on the road ahead and be undistracted while driving.
To find out more about the event, how to donate or how to take the "Just Drive" pledge, go to www.LongestTruckReverse.com .
Explain why is this cause is important to you personally. Do you have a story that has influenced your decision to raise awareness for this important cause?
The first person my age that I knew who died before their time was in high school with me. They were in a single person car accident believed to be caused by a mobile phone. Being a small country town everyone was affected or knew someone who was.
Car accidents are like that. It's not just the drivers involved that are affected but the families, community's emergency response resources, insurance rates go up for everyone and we all know it's not fun to be stuck in traffic due to an accident.
Further, the problem with car accidents is that we never know we are in one until a split second before it's about to happen or when we are sitting on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck and police to show up minutes after it has happened now with plenty of time for reminiscing.
Everything is fine until it's not and by that time we can't do anything about it. We all think we are good drivers until we get just a tiny bit careless and get humbled in an accident, even a small one. I hope that this event can promote the idea of being more focused behind the wheel before we become humbled and change our behaviors out of embarrassment or guilt.
I'm always trying to better myself. I like a challenge and to find new ways to grow in all areas of life. I've definitely caught myself every now and again getting slack on my commuter driver disciplines, being too comfortable and picking up my phone to answer a text or similar while driving which is not ideal for safe driving habits. And we sometimes justify it and say "just for a second" is ok, but really we can all just catch ourselves out and do a little bit better.
Can you tell about the importance of safety behind the wheel in the world of stunts?
Two things that come to my mind regarding this that I keep very close are from my driving mentors back in Australia. One would say that as stunt drivers we make a living "doing the wrong thing at exactly the right time" and also "the big difference between all drivers whether they are on the learner's permit, have driven professionally for years, are a stunt driver or a commuter driver who drives twice a week is the speed with which they perceive and correct their mistakes."
Essentially the best drivers still make small mistakes, they just correct them faster also. However you can only correct the mistakes that you are conscious of. That's why constant awareness is so important.
As stunt drivers we have a lot of pressure to know a vehicle inside and out, to be precise, hit the right marks and timing cues, and not just once, but repeatedly until we get the shot. Therefore, precision, driven by constant awareness of our vehicles, road conditions, the crew, our fellow stunt men and women is so important.
While having good technical knowledge of driving and vehicles is important, where safety often starts from in doing a successful performance is the core skills of awareness.
Explain the Guinness World Record you are going for. What made you decide on this particular record? What is special about it to you?
I'm going for the record of reversing a semi truck and trailer over 50 miles. I've always loved reversing trucks, perhaps even more than driving forwards.
When you're backing trucks into a yard or similar it's very much a visual and kinesthetic puzzle, to be able to stay in a quiet head space and maneuver a large vehicle in reverse into a tight parking lot. The biggest challenge for me with this is not so much the reversing but whether I can maintain enough focus and awareness for the few hours it's going to take me.
I could reverse at 5 mph which would make it easier at that speed but I don't really want to reverse a truck for ten hours. So I'll need to find a balance of speed, control and awareness then maintain that until it's done. My initial tests give me confidence as the top speed I've been able to reverse a semi at comfortably so far is 25mph but that's a consistent straight line so we will see what my average around the course at Turner Field comes out to be.
How do you think the community can do better to encourage undistracted driving?
Like any habits we can all get sloppy and allow bad habits to creep in. It's about how we talk to ourselves and the conditions of what's ok and what's not that we set for ourselves
It's also about looking out for your buddies. If they need to tend to something while they're driving, offer to do it for them, and say things like "can I text that person for you?" as a polite way to hint that you'd rather they weren't on their phone while driving, for their benefit and for yours.
Any final thoughts or words of encouragement you’d like to leave with the community?
I do volunteer work with kids on the side and when they find out that I've been "on tv" and "work with movie stars" they always want to know what movies and what it's like and how we do it. They really see us as super heroes!
While we are often more humble and don't like to be put on a pedestal I still think it's very important for us to make good choices and to lead by example on camera and off.