Distracted driving can be deadly. Talking and texting on cell phones are two of the main culprits and they claim thousands of lives annually. It’s an especially serious problem for teenagers with more than seven in ten admitting to sending a text while behind the wheel.
It’s such a serious problem that the Huntington High School PTSA decided to once again tackle the issue head-on, sponsoring Distracted Driving Awareness Week. A wrecked car parked outside the building helped drive home the point that the issue isn’t one to scoff at.
A banner exclaiming “It Can Wait: Don’t Text and Drive,” was draped across the car. The ruined vehicle was impossible to miss. Additional banners were hung inside and outside the building to reinforce the message
Terrifying statistics were shared with students to help them focus on the issue. The highlight of the week was a presentation for juniors and seniors by Karen Torres of the Texting Awareness Foundation. A morning assembly for students helped further educate and enlighten.
Ms. Torres offered a heartfelt personal account of what’s at stake. Film clips and sobering statistics left no doubt that distracted driving is a public health epidemic. The usually hard to impress teenagers were riveted. “It only takes a few seconds to take your eyes off to change the lives of others,” she said.
Ms. Torres shared the story of how she lost her own father to a distracted driver. “Her presentation was not only about the dangers of texting and driving, but of all the possible distractions,” PTSA co-Vice President Debbie Chin said.
Huntington PTSA officials said they hope “the entire community and beyond will stand with Huntington High School and take the pledge: It Can Wait.”
In an effort to continue spreading awareness, the PTSA is sponsoring an essay contest. Essayists need to depict what they learned during Ms. Torres’ presentation. The two winning entries will each receive a $250 scholarship sponsored by Allstate Insurance.
Bethpage Federal Credit Union is also offering a $500 scholarship to the winner of a public service announcement video contest. Applications are available in the guidance office.
PTSA provided a variety of informative handouts related to distracted driving courtesy of the AAA. Hallways were decorated with posters of previous poster contest winners from a safe driving campaign coordinated by the AAA. Giveaways during the week included wristbands, hand sanitizer, car magnets and thumb rings to help spread awareness of safe driving and the dangers of distracted driving.