Woodbury High School students embrace ‘It can wait’ messageIt may be no surprise to people that texting and driving has become an increasingly big problem for teenagers. What might surprise some is that texting and driving is 23 times more likely to cause an accident than drinking and driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA.)
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
It may be no surprise to people that texting and driving has become an increasingly big problem for teenagers. What might surprise some is that texting and driving is 23 times more likely to cause an accident than drinking and driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA.)
Last year, the United States saw 100,000 texting-related crashes, according to the NHTSA.
It is because of those statistics that the Woodbury High School Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) club has turned its attention to spreading the word about texting and driving.
“Texting and driving is a lot more of an issue for teenagers than drinking and driving – and it’s equally as destructive,” said WHS senior Logan Dirkx, who is the president of SADD. “Texting and driving is a much more prevalent issue and it’s much more abused.”
Easy to do
Dirkx said he believes texting and driving has become an issue among teenagers, and adults, because it’s something everyone is able to do.
“It’s not something like drinking and driving where there’s such a stigma against it,” he said.
SADD adviser Joanna Lerud agrees with Dirkx.
“Most of them do it,” she said. “I don’t know if they all drink and drive, so it’s more pertinent.”
WHS senior Alec Albright, who is secretary of SADD, agrees with Dirkx that texting and driving just doesn’t have the same negative connotations against it yet.
“They feel they’re indestructible,” he said.
Senior Tyler Dabney, who is the vice president for SADD, was actually hit in the school parking lot recently when a friend was backing up while texting.
“Imagine if I had been a pedestrian,” he said.
Dirkx said the increase in texting and driving can be attributed to an increase in technology.
“Ten years ago, one in five people had a cellphone and now everyone has a smartphone,” Dirkx said. “Everyone can text, everyone can do Facebook and Instagram and Twitter – it’s so easy to do when you’re driving that you don’t ever really think about it.”
WHS senior and SADD member John Qiu said teenagers almost feel lost without their cellphones in a way.
“Technology is the way kids are connected today,” Qiu said. “If you don’t have it for a day, it makes a huge impact – it’s becoming more of a part of our lives.”
Dirkx said students almost feel a sense of responsibility to respond to texts, e-mails or phone calls instantaneously.
“It’s kind of your social responsibility,” he said. “It’s that social obligation to talk to your friends.”
WHS school resource officer Bill Mason said he is glad SADD has taken it upon itself to raise awareness about texting and driving.
“You don’t need to be drinking in order to be driving poorly,” he said. “It’s distracted driving and not fully paying attention to what’s going on in front of you on the road.
“We’ve all found ourselves guilty of texting and driving, so we need to pay attention and be safer on the road.”
In order to help raise awareness about texting and driving, SADD has adopted a two-fold campaign.
The first part of the campaign is to encourage students to participate in the national “It Can Wait” campaign, which asks people to take a pledge to never text and drive.
Albright said he fully intends to make the pledge.
“I used to text and drive, but I’m trying to stop,” he said. “I can’t be a hypocrite.”
The second part of SADD’s campaign against texting and driving will be to record a video that they hope to feature in WHS’ morning announcements and on the school’s website.
Dirkx said SADD decided to take this route in preventing texting and driving because it’s not like drinking and driving where they can hold a mock crash and scare students.
“If it’s really constant in students’ eyes, kids will stop,” he said. “It’s not so much of a shock thing as drinking and driving is.”
Dirkx said SADD is hoping to have the video completed for winter break.
“If everyone can do it and abuse it, that’s worth raising awareness about,” he said.
For more information about the national “It Can Wait” campaign visit http://itcanwait.com.