Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:
Sun News, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on texting:
Nearly all teenagers say texting while driving is dangerous yet 43 percent of the teen drivers admit to doing it. Why? Perhaps because 75 percent of the teens say their friends text while driving and 77 percent have seen their parents texting.
The data is from a national survey by AT&T Wireless which started the "It Can Wait" campaign in 2009 and now is a sponsor with the S.C. Press Association of a writing and video contest for high school students on the dangers of texting while driving.
The Sun News contest begins Monday and closes Oct. 13. In an essay, editorial or opinion column, high school writers are to answer the question: "Why is it important to take the It Can Wait pledge to never text and drive?" Writers should highlight the dangers of texting while driving and must include this call to action: "Take the pledge to never text and drive at ItCanWait.com"
Entries must be typed and be between 300 and 500 words. Entries may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org with the words It can wait in the subject line.
Video entrants must create a video that answers the "Why is it important to take the pledge" question by highlighting the dangers of texting while driving. The video also must include the call to action for drivers to take the pledge at ItCanWait.com.
The video and essay contest is open to all S.C. high school students, including those being home schooled. Essays must be the work of one student; video entries can be the work of an individual student or a team of students.
It should go without saying, but the rules say it anyway: Videos must not be filmed from within a moving vehicle.
AT&T is underwriting a $500 prize for the statewide winner. Writing entries must be received by The Sun News and all video entries must be submitted to the SCPA by Oct. 13. The Sun News winner will be announced on Oct. 23 and sent to the SCPA to compete in the state contest. Members of The Sun News Editorial Board will judge the entries. Statewide winners in editorial and video will be announced on Nov. 7.
It took six years, but South Carolina now has a ban on texting while driving. State Sen. Greg Hembree of Little River says the S.C. law, which became effective when Gov. Nikki Haley signed it, pre-empts all local ordinances, which had created a patchwork of bans and enforcement confusion. One fault of the law is that the penalty is only $25. Hembree feels that will be revisited after the law has been in place for a time and he points out that many drivers will follow the law.
Pamela P. Lackey, state president of AT&T, cites progress in convincing motorists to refrain from texting while driving, including more than four million pledges on ItCanWait.com. Still, "texting drivers cause more than 100,000 automobile crashes resulting in death or life-changing injuries," she says in a letter to S.C. newspaper editors.
"It Can Wait" originated in a group discussion centered on the idea that "I know it's dangerous but I can handle it." Clifton Metcalf, director of public affairs for AT&T in both Carolinas, recalls that the discussion leader asked everyone to look at his or her most recent text message. "Was your last message worth your life — or can it wait?" The room was hushed.
Of course, texting while driving is not just a teenager issue.
"This writing contest is exciting because it will engage young people across the state in urging their peers, and, yes, their parents to refrain from texting and driving," Lackey says.
Every parent knows teen peers have more impact on teens than their parents. Metcalf points out that 90 percent of teens surveyed say if a teen friend in the car says, "Hey, don't do that," they will stop texting.
The Herald, Rock Hill, South Carolina, on high school game passes:
Free passes to Friday night high school football games, such as those issued in Rock Hill to fans 65 and older, are a great way to sustain interest in local sports. But the Rock Hill school district needs a consistent policy regarding when those passes are honored.
Some fans had to scramble to find money for tickets after their passes didn't get them a seat at the Aug. 23 Northwestern High game against Byrnes. Fans with passes including "Club 65" passes for seniors and "VIP" passes, which are given to a select few such as teachers of the year, were told they would have to buy a ticket.
The reason given earlier on the district's website and Facebook page was that the game was being televised on ESPN, and district-issued passes wouldn't be honored "due to the district contract with ESPN." People also were told they couldn't use their passes because the game was sponsored by ESPN.
But the contract with ESPN says nothing about ticket policies. And, while the network was broadcasting the game, it wasn't technically sponsoring it.