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No texting while driving | The Jackson Sun | jacksonsun.

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No texting while driving
Sep. 19

jacksonsun.com What to know • To learn more about the No Text On Board Campaign, visit www.itcanwait.com. To view “The Last Text,” visit http://bit.ly/e1G43c. • AT&T has created a free smartphone app called DriveMode, which will send a customized auto-response to incoming texts letting others know the driver is behind the wheel and will get back to them soon. Other similar apps include “Drive Safe Mode” and “Drive Alive.”

Three simple words were all it took for 18-year-old Mariah West to divert her eyes from the road as she drove to a baseball game. The high school senior died one day short of graduation because she texted “Where u at” shortly before hitting a highway median and crashing headfirst into a cement bridge. Patrick Sims texted “lol” to a friend and didn’t see the cyclist headed toward him. The teen killed the man — as Sims said in an 11-minute anti-texting and driving documentary — because of “one stupid, meaningless text.” Their stories are part of a documentary that aired in every high school classroom at North Side High School on Wednesday afternoon as part of the National No Text On Board Pledge Day campaign, which encourages drivers of all ages to not text while driving. Sara Phifer, a family and consumer sciences teacher at North Side, said Family, Community and Career Leaders of America partnered with AT&T to raise awareness of this campaign. “We have stickers, posters, pledge cards and thumb bands for students to wear to remind them of their pledge,” she said. At South Side High School, students who are member of the Family, Community and Career Leaders of America held a pledge drive during the lunch hours Wednesday to raise awareness of the issue, said teacher Wilma Williams. “Our students made posters and connected with local businesses to get the word out,” she said. “Students are also taking packets to their youth groups and organizations to talk more about texting while driving.” South Side students have been busy all week making contacts with businesses like Wal-Mart and JacksonMadison County General Hospital asking their employees to sign a pledge also, Williams said. All local high schools will be involved in this community service project throughout the school year, Williams said. “To me there is nothing more precious than life, nothing more hurting than feeling the loss of someone you

Students sign pledge cards committing not to text and drive during an anti-texting and driving program at North Side High. / MICHELLE GACHET/The Jackson Sun

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No texting while driving | The Jackson Sun | jacksonsun.com

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know, or a family member’s loss from a car accident that could have been prevented,” she said. “I want my students to be informed, know the facts and make a difference by doing what’s right.” North Side senior Erica Adams, 18, said her classmates who are drivers were also asked to sign a piece of paper promising to not text and drive. Students too young to drive were asked to sign a “BFF Pledge” to keep their friends from checking their phones behind the wheel. “We want to try to prevent people from texting while driving,” she said. “So many accidents happen because of that.” Adams and fellow senior Domanique Evans, 17, are working on a project for Family, Community and Career Leaders of America about this issue. They made posters to share the message of safe driving and collected the signed pledge for a future display at the school. Adams said while the campaign uses the word “text,” students and adults do more than just that with their phones. “Most of the students I know do texting, including using Facebook and Twitter or to check email,” she said. Both teens noted while they hoped most of their classmates would sign the pledge, they know most teens only take the issue seriously once someone close to them is affected by it. Evans said she’s been in a car with a driver who was using a phone to text. She offered to hold the phone for the driver. The message both students used comes from the campaign itself: “Wait until you reach your destination,” Evans said. “Put your phone on silent or turn it face down so you aren’t tempted to check it.” “No text is more important than your life,” Adams added. Trey Rabon, with AT&T in Jackson, said he was impressed to see what the students at North Side and South Side high schools did to spread the word. AT&T began working on the No Text On Board campaign Aug. 15 — he’s spoken to civic clubs, community organizations and the Jackson Chamber of Commerce about the anti-texting while driving campaign. Rabon said Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist and Madison County Mayor Jimmy Harris issued a public proclamation to coincide with Pledge Day. According to a study, drivers are 23 times more likely to be in an accident if they are texting, Rabon said. About 100,000 serious auto accidents a year are caused by it. “Our goal is to raise awareness and save lives,” he said. “At South Side today, they had a blackout and encouraged students to wear black today. It culminated with their noon pledge drive.” AT&T conducted its own study and learned that 77 percent of students said their parents have told them not to text and drive, but have seen their parents do it, Rabon said. Texting while driving has been illegal in Tennessee since 2009 — police can issue a $50 non-moving violation fine and $10 in court costs, he said. On Oct. 17, AT&T will have a simulation vehicle on the campus of Jackson State Community College so people can experience what can happen while texting and driving. He hopes that will get people to pay attention. “Technology is great, but there is a time and a place for it,” Rabon said. “Many people are guilty of reading their email or checking the Internet while driving. Just wait until you get to your destination. No message is worth it.”

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9/20/2012 6:52 AM

No texting while driving | The Jackson Sun | jacksonsun.com

http://www.jacksonsun.com/article/20120920/NEWS01/309200015/?ncl...

And that last part, Rabon said, is the motto of the whole campaign: “It Can Wait.”

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