In February, several hundred teenagers at Western Guilford High School in Greensboro, North Carolina, watched a car accident in the parking lot at school. Although dozens of emergency vehicles arrived with sirens blaring and pulled a student out of the car with the Jaws of Life, this accident was not a tragic emergency. Instead, it was a staged play designed to teach teens about the dangers of texting and driving.
Our North Carolina accident attorneys know that each year, thousands of kids experience a real-life version of the staged accident. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for 15 to 19 year olds, and many of the teens who are killed – or who kill others – are texting while they drive.
Program Aims to Teach Teens about Texting and Driving Dangers
The play at the Greensboro High School finished up with the teens being told that the driver in the car had been texting her boyfriend when the accident happened. The teens were also told that the driver, who was played by a student actor, died after being airlifted to get medical help.
The purpose of the play was to drive home the serious dangers associated with texting and driving. Although there is a statewide ban on sending texts while behind the wheel, it is believed that more education efforts are necessary to stop young people from engaging in the behavior anyway. As such, law enforcement says that they are ramping up their education efforts.
The play presented at Western Guilford High School is part of the broader program going on statewide, which is called “message 2 die 4.” Schools, local businesses and law enforcement are all collaborating.
The hope is that this program will be successful like other campaigns, such as Booze it and Lose It, and Click it or Ticket. These prior campaigns, which respectively targeted drunk driving and seat belt use, improved safety and raised awareness. The aim is for the texting education to do the same.
Stopping Teens from Texting and Driving
In addition to improving their educational outreach, WUNC.org also reported that law enforcement has indicated an intention to start cracking down by enforcing the texting ban.
In Guilford County last year, only 144 people were cited for texting and driving. Throughout the state of North Carolina, there were only 1,910 tickets total issued for texting. To put this in perspective, consider that there were 328,000 speeding tickets issued and 68,000 tickets for drunk driving issued during the same time period.
The small number of citations was not because teens weren’t texting. In fact, according to WUNC.org, one law enforcement official said that anecdotal evidence suggested that the texting and driving problem is getting worse.
Hopefully, with increased efforts this year, both in terms of more citations and more educational outreach, teens will stop engaging in the dangerous practice of texting and driving. The risks of a crash — which Distraction.gov indicates may be 23 times higher than someone not texting — are simply too great to make the choice to text.