Teens vow to be text-free

Published 8:25 pm Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The students at Goshen High School were the first in the state to learn about the dangers of texting and driving on Monday, thanks to a new program offered by State Farm and AT&T.

The program was presented as part of National Teen Driver Safety Week and is being offered to schools throughout the nation.

Students were faced with the harsh realities of what could happen if distracted from driving. They were shown a video from State Farm with four different accident scenarios resulting in injury or death because of a distraction such as texting.

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“We’re trying to educate students on the ills of distracted driving and texting while driving,” said Ty Fondren the regional director for AT&T. “Traffic accidents are the number one fatality for teenagers. It’s a new fun entitlement, new freedom testing the boundaries.”

State Rep. Alan Boothe, who is also a former police chief for Troy, spoke to the students about his experiences.

“I have served this county many years. I’ve seen the result of what texting and driving can do. Teenagers may not be as experienced in driving and allow distractions to lose their attention,” Boothe said.

Boothe used the analogy that you wouldn’t drive a bike 60 mph and turn lose of the handlebars to text so why do it with a car? Reaction time is slowed down with distractions and drivers cannot handle unknown problems that may occur, he said.

His message to the students Monday morning was simple: “Don’t do it, if you have to text pull over; don’t drive and text at the same time.”

Boothe said accidents caused by texting and driving are an everyday occurrence.

“It’s a wonderful program that AT&T and State Farm are presenting and I’m glad to be a part of it. If it helps one person, that’s beneficial,” he said.

Students were given an opportunity to take a pledge to be smart, be caring, be in control, be a true friend, and not text and drive. They were asked to make the pledge public by signing a banner at the end of the program.

“I had seen the videos before while getting my permit but it wasn’t until I had a friend affected that I began to think about it,” said Senior Amanda Griggs after signing the banner. “If you want to live your life to the fullest, don’t text and drive.”

“If one of my friends are texting and driving I grab the phone and text for them,” said senior Meghan Owens.

Texting and driving just can’t be done at the same time, it’s impossible explained Fondren.

“We want them to know that losing focus for just a moment can cause an accident.”