NORMAN — Students at Moore Norman Technology Center are hoping to save lives by raising awareness about the dangers of texting while driving.
Students in the school’s career exploration education class launched the “Stop Texting & Driving” campaign by asking their high school peers and others to sign pledges to not text and drive.
Recently, Midwest City police Sgt. Brad Rummell could have been killed when a teen driver, distracted by her cell phone, slammed into his patrol car as he made a routine traffic stop. Both the officer and the teen survived the crash, but the cars were destroyed.
The crash was just another reason why students decided to focus on a campaign to urge drivers not to be distracted by cell phones or other mobile devices, instructor Zena Amer said.
“This issue affects my kids and young people in a real way,” Amer said. “They think it’s never going to happen to them. But, if we create more awareness and can save one life, then it’s all worth it.”
The students began the project by first hearing presentations by Norman Police Department officers and local Allstate insurance agents.
Next, students created a Facebook page for the campaign and opened accounts on Twitter and Pinterest. Students make daily posts on the sites, said social media manager Noah Elliott, a Norman North High School junior.
Students also partnered with AT&T, which provided them with “No Text on Board” car decals and pledge cards. Moore Norman Technology Center’s graphic design students provided posters for the campaign.
According to the Allstate Insurance Teen Driver Pledge website, texting while driving results in 330,000 distracted driving injuries each year, and results in vehicle crashes that kill an average of 11 teens each day nationwide.
“Car crashes are the number one killer of teens, and sending just one text while driving is like having four beers or holding a .08 blood alcohol limit,” said Allstate agent and agency owner Chris Hill, of south Oklahoma City.
Distracted driving can can increase a driver’s risk of crashing by 23 times, Hill said.
The students also have carried their message to civic organizations where they made presentations, and they have set up information tables at high schools in Norman and Moore.
“It is a huge problem for high school students, and we want kids to realize the dangers of it,” said Westmoore High School junior Samantha McElhiney.
Working on a campaign that affects their age group gets her students looking at social issues, Amer said.
“When kids speak to other kids, they get it. They understand it. Getting them involved in their high schools and raising awareness about texting and driving is what they really wanted to do,” she said.
Anna Trowbridge is the media and creative coordinator for Moore Norman Technology Center.