Frenship teens pledge not to text and drive

Several teens at Frenship High School pledged to never text and drive after watching a video from AT&T and taking part in a texting and driving simulator.

One teen, sophomore Christian Tucker, said he works as a delivery driver and often gets texts from work as well as from his ailing grandmother.

But he said watching a video in which family members and friends of three teens talk about their loved ones’ final texts before dying in distracted driving accidents convinced him to try to stop texting while driving.

Most of his texts, he agreed, could wait.

But two adults in the room said it’s not just teens who have a problem.

Cameron Moore, director of external affairs for AT&T in West Texas, said he personally used to email on a Blackberry while driving on long, deserted stretches of highway.

“I used to email, and I know people who do this, driving with your knee, and emailing with your Blackberry while you’re driving down I-27. And I thought, I’m real good at this. And I’ve never had an accident, but I’ve never had any driving situations that have come up. But that’s all it would have taken,” Moore said.

He said all it would take is for another driver to change lanes while he was not paying attention, and there could have been a catastrophe.

Using one of the simulators helped Moore to realize that he wasn’t as great at typing and driving as he might have thought.

He said he was embarrassed after trying his hand on the simulator on Monday.

“It was nerve-wracking… I died. I had a head-on collision yesterday,” Moore said.

He said AT&T’s company policies on distracted driving also helped him to put the phone down.

“Our company has told all the employees that if you have an accident while you’re texting or on your phone, you’re in jeopardy of losing your job,” Moore said. “So that kind of helped me put down my phone a lot.”

FHS Assistant Principal Karan Newsom said she hopes the teens get the message against texting and driving, but she said it’s a problem in all age groups.

“Pretty much everybody does it, not just kids, but adults as well. You see it all the time,” Newsom said.

Newsom said she hopes students understand that driving is a big responsibility and that they need to put their cellphones down while driving.

AT&T’s “It Can Wait” presentation asked students to look at the last text they sent on their phones. Was it so important that it was worth being injured or dying for, or worth injuring or killing someone else, teens were asked.

Each of the Frenship students was asked to share the anti-distracted driving message with their friends and family members, as well as to make a pledge to not text and drive.

Students were also encouraged to download an app that will not allow texts to come to their phones while they are driving. The ‘Drive Mode’ app also can send a customized message to those texting the teens, letting them know that the teen is driving and will get back to them when parked.

Moore said the ‘Drive Mode’ app is currently available for Android and Blackberry devices. Windows and iPhone devices already have apps available for them from Microsoft and Apple, respectively, he said, but AT&T will be developing apps for those phones as well.

The app can be turned off manually by passengers, but Moore said parents can also look into setting limits with their mobile service provider. On AT&T plans, he said the ‘Smart Limits’ program allows parents to limit what times teens can text, as well as how many texts they can send.

Moore said the AT&T “No Text On Board: It Can Wait” presentation was not intended to push any products.

“It’s just an all-out effort to educate people on the dangers of texting and driving,” Moore said.

Frenship High School was one of 10 stops in Texas this year, Moore said.

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