Three Lakes High School senior Austin Wierschke is no stranger to text messaging. In fact, he’s the two-time LG U.S. National Texting Champion and can text in just about any situation. There’s one situation, however, in which Austin promises he’ll never find himself texting: behind the wheel.
Last Friday, Three Lakes High School held an assembly to observe the second anniversary of the no-texting-while-driving ban that was implemented in December of 2010. The assembly was hosted by AT&T, AAA and the Wisconsin State Patrol and was geared around one important message: No text is worth sending while behind the wheel.
With 39 states currently banning this action, police and lawmakers across the nation are hoping the consequences of being pulled over while texting will soon be enough to stop the actions from occurring before it is too late. Wisconsin State Patrol Major Sandra Huxtable encouraged students to put down their phones on the road by explaining that the leading cause of death for teens and young adults is predominantly traffic accidents. “Reaction times double when sending and reading texts,” said Huxtable, “which is why it’s so important to take the steps necessary to improve traffic safety.”
Although the ban is difficult to enforce as vehicles reaching over 50 miles per hour move too quickly for a thorough glance, Wisconsin patrollers say they’re taking the ban more seriously than ever. Students at Three Lakes High School were shown a powerful documentary, The Last Text, by AT&T. The film shares real stories about lives altered by the decision to text and drive. Multiple police officers were interviewed in the documentary, some of whom had dealt firsthand with fatal accidents resulting from texting and driving.
While many young adults openly admit they know someone who texts and drives regularly, most are unaware of the frequency of accidents that occur as a result of distracted driving. According to the National Safety Council, texting and driving causes more than 100,000 automobile crashes each year. Furthermore, those who text and drive are 23 times more likely to be in an accident than drivers without distractions.
Lawmakers and state representatives are also working to end distracted driving in Wisconsin. “By making texting while driving illegal, we have taken an important strong step forward in making our roads safer, said State Senator Tom Tiffany, “We’ll continue to educate drivers of the dangerous consequences of distracted driving.”
To raise awareness of the hazards of texting while driving, AT&T has launched a campaign titled “It Can Wait.” The program offers people of all ages a chance to take a pledge against text messaging while driving. Over 165 organizations have joined AT&T in helping to encourage more people to take the pledge. For more information or to take the pledge, log on to itcanwait.com.