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AT&T teaches Trimble students dangers of texting and driving

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By Dave Taylor

The Trimble CARES Coalition hosted a texting and driving simulator from AT&T Friday to highlight the dangers of sending text messages while maneuvering a car.

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The simulator is part of the company’s “It Can Wait” campaign, which intends to raise awareness of the dangers of texting while driving. Sept. 19 is planned to be a national day of action for the campaign.

The company is taking simulators around the country to reach teenage drivers, the targeted audience for the campaign. The company contacted local real estate agent Vicky Rand about bringing a simulator to the local school. Rand has been active for many years as a parent volunteer for the Trimble County School System.

“I really feel it’s important for parents to get involved with the school system and become volunteers,” Rand said. She encourages everyone to get acquainted with new TCHS Principal Rachael Adams “and let her know how you can help make a positive difference for our students”

She coordinated with CARES director Denise Hall to schedule the event.

“We checked with our new principal, Miss Adams,” Hall said. “She wanted to pursue it, today was the day they had available and we just kind of pulled it together. It is a concern we have for our youth.”

“I had built a relationship over the years with Nancy Jarrett from AT&T and she called to tell me that AT&T was bring one of the simulators to Kentucky and to see if Trimble County would be interested in hosting a demonstration,” Rand said. “There were only a very few schools in Kentucky that were going to get this opportunity. She gave me a choice of two dates and we were able to work it out for them to come today.”

The day began with an assembly of the entire high school student body. Among the speakers were Vicky Rand, State Rep. Rick Rand and Trooper Brad Arterburn, public information officer for the Kentucky State Police Post 5 at Campbellsburg, who spoke of the dangers of texting while driving.

While only members of the junior and senior classes participated in the simulation experience, “we opened the assembly up to the entire school because even if they’re not driving and not texting, they’re riding with people that are and they have information maybe they can pass that on as well,” Hall said. “Throughout the day today all of our juniors and seniors will have the opportunity to do the simulator.”

Teens fill out a pre-survey to determine their feelings about texting and driving, and then get into a car and put on goggles that allowed them to see a virtual road complete with other drivers and pedestrians. Students are given a message to text while trying to navigate the course. They complete another survey after driving in the simulator.

“It was actually tougher than I expected,” TCHS senior Sara Brighty said following her turn in the simulator. “It was really an eye opening experience for me. I admit that I will sometimes text and drive—just a little text—but now I’m not going to do it.”

A recent AT&T survey found that while 97 percent of teens say they know texting while driving is dangerous, 43 percent admit to doing so. 77 percent of those teens also said they’ve seen their parents text and drive – and 75 percent say it is “common” among their friends. Studies show texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be in an accident.

“It was a real eye-opening experience for everyone, I think,” Brighty said. “This is a really good program for everyone.”

Safety comes first when you’re in the driver’s seat. To help battle unsafe texting, following are a few key tips:

Be smart. Don’t text and drive. No text message is worth a life.

Be in control. Remember it’s your phone. You decide if and when to send and read texts so take control. Download AT&T DriveModeTM – an app designed to curb the urge to text and drive.

Be caring. Don’t send a text when you know your family member, friend or co-worker is driving.

Friends don’t let each other text and drive. Visit www.itcanwait.com and pledge not to text and drive, and encourage your friends to do the same. Check out the resources on that page – such as a documentary that shows life-altering effects of texting behind the wheel – and spread the word, too.

Along with exercising good judgment, new applications are coming out to help curb the urge to text while driving. One example is the AT&T DriveModeTM app. When enabled, the app sends a customizable auto-reply message to incoming texts, letting your friends know you’re behind the wheel and will reply when it’s safe.

Whether using new applications, taking a pledge or making it a personal practice, the next time you think about sending or answering a text while operating a vehicle, just remember – it can wait. It’s not worth losing your life or taking someone else’s.

“I think it was a fun event,” Vicky Rand said. “Hopefully, it was a learning experience for the students and they all took something away. It didn’t cost the school system anything.”