Days after Christmas 2009, a young Arizona mother died after a teenager slammed head-on into her car. The teen was texting while driving. Such fatal automobile accidents have been rare in Virginia, but the potential for such tragedies is high. According to real-word driving studies performed by Virginia Tech researchers, using a cell phone or other handheld device to send a text message takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 5 seconds. It can take less than a second’s inattention to put you in a roadway situation you can’t control.
Virginia has joined about half of the states in banning texting while driving and imposing stiff penalties for distracted driving. The federal government has also forbidden texting in government vehicles. Not everyone — especially high school and college students — seems to be getting the message about the dangers and legal consequences of texting behind the wheel, however. Recognizing this a group of Newport News high schoolers have produced this video for their peers:
“The road is dangerous enough without any distractions at all,” Menchville High junior Taylor Henkel told the Daily Press about the public service announcement made with the support of local law enforcement and emergency medical personnel. “Nothing is that important that it can’t wait 10 to 15 minutes for you to drive home.”
The students’ goal is to have their video shown in schools throughout Virginia and, possibly, on the Oprah Winfrey Show as part of the talk show host’s campaign to eliminate texting while driving. Whatever audience the video reaches, I hope viewers will heed its message.