Valley man with brain injury warns against distracted driving

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MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

April is Distracted Driver's Awareness Month. And one Valley man is hoping his story will resonate with Arizonans and persuade them to put down their phones and buckle up.

Up until he was 23, Dan Mannon lived a normal, healthy life.

Now, 17 years later, Dan is still working to cope with his new normal.

"I'm extremely lucky to be alive. They said I hit an embankment at like 90 miles an hour," said Mannon.

Mannon was driving on the 202 and merging onto the 101 when he came around a curve.

He was talking on the phone (and not wearing his seatbelt) when he lost control and slammed into a concrete barricade.

"My body fell out of the car and hit the concrete. I was in a coma for like a month," said Mannon.

As a result of Mannon's head hitting the concrete, he nearly died.

The traumatic brain injury Mannon suffered is what led to his speech disorder, known as dysarthria.

"I'm really telling people, they need to pay more attention; it's not worth it. I've had to deal with this for 17 years," said Mannon.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, nearly 3,500 people were killed by distracted driving in 2015, while nearly 400,000 were hurt by it.

A study just released by Life360 shows drivers here in Arizona use their phones nearly two times during a drive.    

"Part of what happens with younger people is they're invincible in their own mind; they're invincible, they're not gonna die, they're not gonna have an accident," said Dan's mom Candy.

Mannon lives with his mom and dad at their home in Mesa.

It's here that Mannon spends much of his time putting jigsaw puzzles together to combat his double vision and build connections within his brain.

Mannon has also landed himself a paid job at this Bashas' on Power Road and McDowell.

"We all have crosses to bear, difficult things that happen, but you know, a traumatic accident is life-changing. You find out how resilient you really are," said Candy Mannon.

Mannon, though, is a constant work in progress, always working to be better understood, in hopes he can one day be a contestant on Wheel of Fortune, to inspire others and raise awareness about his speaking disorder and traumatic brain injury.

"I realize because of the way I sound, people think I'm not very smart, but if they saw me do Wheel of Fortune, they would say wow, this guy is actually pretty smart," said Mannon.

Without powerful Valley resources such as the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona, Mannon says he doesn't know where he'd be today.

If you'd like to connect with BIAA, click here:

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