By Dedra Cordle
As text messaging has become a part of our daily lives, it is second nature to pick up the phone and read a new text as soon as one comes through. Ideally, one will read this message in a safe location, such as a store or a house, but for many it is done while they are driving.
Distracted driving has become a serious issue in the United States, with reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicating that each day, more than nine people are killed and more than 1,060 people are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.
To combat this growing problem, government entities and communication companies have teamed up to spread the word about the dangers of distracted driving. One demographic they are particularly focused on is young adults.
Last year, a nationwide campaign called It Can Wait was unveiled. The goal of It Can Wait is to raise awareness about texting and driving and to get teenagers to pledge not to do it.
Central Crossing High School participated in the event last year and more than 173 students took the pledge. As a reward for their efforts, the It Can Wait campaign came to the school on Sept. 19 to get even more students to sign up.
Even though the official number of students who made the pledge has not yet been made available, Cortney Marovich, an engineer at AT&T, believes the day was a success.
“The response from the students here has been incredible,” she said. “I think they are starting to get the importance of not texting while driving and they really understand just how dangerous it is.”
But the outreach to stop distracted driving at Central Crossing didn’t end when the It Can Wait representatives left for the day. It continues with a club called Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD).
The Central Crossing chapter of the SADD program began three years ago with a focus on the prevention of bullying. They traveled to elementary and intermediate schools in the South-Western City Schools District to speak about bullying and engaged with their fellow students on that troubling topic.
In addition to bullying, the club raises awareness about dating violence, teen suicide, drug use, and drinking and driving. Now, they will add texting and driving to their list.
Marc Russell, an upperclassman at Central Crossing and a member of SADD, said it is an important topic to discuss.
“We need to get the message out there because sometimes kids don’t think before they do what they’re doing,” he said.
Russell, along with several other SADD members, admitted to texting while driving in the past, but they all swore they do not do it anymore.
Jennie Burris, an intervention specialist at the school and a SADD co-advisor, said she knows that realistically, not everyone who took the pledge to not text and drive will keep their word, but she is hopeful that the campaign and the raised awareness at the school will change the mind of at least one student.
“If we can get that one student to latch onto the idea, they’ll tell their friends, and they’ll tell their friends and the message will start catching on.”