Travelers releases new comic to raise awareness about distracted driving and to honor a 3-year-old Navajo boy
By Darcie Ortique
Hartford Courant |
Oct 14, 2020 at 6:00 AM
The Travelers Tower in Hartford. The Travelers Companies have turned to a comic book hero to send a new message about the growing danger of distracted driving. (Lauren Schneiderman/Hartford Courant)
The Travelers Companies have turned to a comic book hero to send a new message about the growing danger of distracted driving.
The new comic, “Zaadii: The Legend of Z-Hawk,” was commissioned by Travelers to honor the life of 3-year-old, Zaadii Tso. Zaadii, a Navajo boy from Arizona, passed away in 2015 after he was killed by a distracted driver. Zaadii’s mother and sister survived the crash, which happened when the three of them were crossing a street.
“We wanted an approach that didn’t use scare tactics, that really honored the victims of distracted driving and we met with several families over the course of a couple of years and talked to them about their loved ones that were killed by a distracted driver," said John Morris, a senior vice president with Travelers. "Out of that, the idea of, honoring what might have been, honoring their lives and what might have been through an ‘Unfinished Stories' campaign came out of that idea.'’
Unlike other campaigns, where evidence from fatal accidents are used to gain attention from others, Travelers used art and animation to get a message across.
Zaadii “always used to wear a cape and he never took it off,” Morris said. “In fact, his mom had to sneak in when he went to bed, to take his cape off,” Morris added. “He was so interested in superheroes, we had the idea to instead of using an animated film, actually creating a comic book, a story about what he might have become."
According to the new 2020 Travelers Risk Index, drivers continue to take their attention away from the road in front of them. A company survey shows that nearly 40% of Generation Z respondents believe they can safely drive while distracted, and one-third of millennials report that they have nearly crashed because of distracted driving. The National Safety Council has designated October as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
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The newly-released tribute can be found on the Travelers' website, featuring other Unfinished Stories , an initiative dedicated to shedding light on the lives cut short by distracted driving.
Gail Simone, one of the authors of ‘The Legend of Z-Hawk’ comic, said she is accustomed to writing comics with powerful messages, featuring fictional characters. However, Zaadii’s story was a lot different, in comparison to the ordinary comics, featuring fictional characters. “Doing a project like this, where you are actually dealing with a young boy, who is a real person and his real family and the real world issues surrounding it, it brings a deeply personal edge to it," Simone explained.
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"Once I got on the phone with Zaadii’s mom, Rachel, and we started talking, there was just, a connection there,” Simone said. “That kind of made me feel like this was the right thing to do. I felt like I could take Rachel’s words and put them on the paper in the most impactful way that I could think of,” Simone added.
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Today, Zaadii’s family and loved ones are left with pictures and memories of their 3-year-old, gone too soon. “It is really building awareness of the issue because people don’t think,” Morris explains. “They think ‘Oh, it’s not a big deal for me. I am worried about distracted drivers, but I can do it; I can quickly take a phone call or check a text because I’m a really good driver.’'
Travelers representatives help spread awareness about how momentary neglect can be the result of a life lost and how imperative it is to drive mindfully.
“If you take your mind off the road for 3 seconds, that’s like driving the length of a football field, with your eyes closed," Morris added.