Students pledge to not text and drive
Assembly teaches students dangers of inattentive driving
Germantown — In a showing of unity, Germantown High School students Monday morning raised their hands in a pledge that they will not text and drive.
The Washington County Injury Prevention Coalition hosted an all-school assembly to teach students the ramifications of distracted driving. Germantown was the first school to participate in the Coalition's initiative to prevent texting and driving. High School Principal Joel Farren said Germantown was selected because of past efforts to promote student safety including the Children's Hospital Teen Safe Driving Campaign and the Every 15 Minutes program that focuses on drunken driving prevention.
Susan Kim and Vince Vitrano from TMJ4 Live at Day Break and personal injury attorney John Safran lead the presentation, asking students to "band together" to stop texting and driving and make the roads a safer place. Today's TMJ4, 94.5 The Lake and Newsradio 620 WTMJ started the "Band Together" campaign to stop texting and driving. Sponsoring the program in Germantown was part of this initiative. (NOW newspapers, Today's TMJ4, 94.5 The Lake and Newsradio 620 WTMJ are all subsidiaries of Journal Communications.)
Actions affect others
"Obviously, when we share stories about our community, we hope they're good ones, but we often have the unfortunate task of sharing stories that are not so positive," said Vitrano, who proceeded to read names off of a list.
Each person he mentioned went to prison for killing someone while texting and driving. Vitrano urged students to not only think about how their actions affect them, but how they affect others.
Safran, whose law firm has been a part of a nationwide anti-texting and driving campaign since last year, told students that distracted driving does not mean just texting. It encompasses all distractions from answering the cellphone, changing music or eating while driving. Talking on the phone quadruples the risk of an accident, Safran said.
Distracts on many levels
There are three main forms of distraction: manual, visual and cognitive. Texting and driving requires all three, which is why it's so dangerous, Safran said.
"I don't believe that this is a teen driver problem," he said. "Distracted driving is everyone's problem and I think you can help solve it."
Safran encouraged students to speak up for their own safety when driving with someone who is distracted. This includes standing up to their own parents if they are texting while driving, or talking on the phone.
John Mercure, with 620 WTMJ, said he would routinely text and drive. With two children away at college, texting is their predominant channel of communication. Now, if he has to respond to a text, he waits until he gets home or pulls into a parking lot. Mercure has been to Iraq, visited Milwaukee's worst neighborhoods and covered two hurricanes, none of which he said are as dangerous as texting while driving.
"Band together with us," he said. "Take the pledge to not text and drive."
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