THS students pledge to fight texting while drivingPublished 12:17pm Friday, November 15, 2013
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
Thompson High School Principal Dr. Daniel Steele asked the school’s upperclassmen to think back to the last text message they sent on the morning of Nov. 15.
“Was that text important enough to risk your life or the life of a loved one? I didn’t think so,” Steele said during an AT&T-sponsored “It can Wait” no texting while driving program in the school’s auditorium.
Over the past several years, several hundred thousand people have died as a result of distracted driving accidents, including more than 100,000 nationwide last year, said state Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster.
“That is so unnecessary,” Ward said, noting an average text message takes drivers’ eyes off the road for about five seconds. “Taking your eyes off the road for five seconds is like driving the length of a football field at 55 miles per hour blind. That’s scary.”
During the program, students viewed a video featuring actual victims and drivers who were involved in tragic texting-while-driving accidents. One segment featured a child who was paralyzed from the chest down by a distracted driver and another featured a man who killed a girl while texting and driving.
THS student Emily Norris said national studies have indicated more than 90 percent of teens know texting and driving is dangerous, and have indicated 75 percent of teens say texting and driving is common among their friends and family members.
State Rep. Mike Hill, R-Columbiana, told students the state Legislature passed laws in 2012 outlawing texting and driving across the state.
“We don’t need to lose anyone else as a result of distracted driving or texting while driving,” Ward said.
AT&T Regional Director Terri Williams said phone companies offer “drive mode” apps, which automatically respond to text messages received while driving.
“We’ve got enough distractions in our cars already,” Williams said. “I want you to make the choice to put the phone to the side.
“It’s hard to know which one of your lives we are saving here today, but rest assured, it is someone’s,” Williams added.