TXTING KLLS: Seniors pledge for life

Published 10:08 pm Friday, August 24, 2012

(From left) Shelia Slade looks on as seniors Tevin Whitney, Andy Ramirez and Caleb Sherman stamp a pledge to not text and drive at Northside High School's senior breakfast. (WDN Photo/ Mona Moore)

Sara Cutler and Dana Brooks have plans for the senior class of Northside High School. Those plans started Friday at the senior class breakfast with a pledge.
If the women — both parents of Panthers — have it their way, the Northside seniors will lead a campaign to stop students from texting and driving.
Cutler and Brooks enlisted the help of local businesses to start the campaign. Allstate representative Ryan Whitford shared a few distracted driving facts and statistics with Friday’s group of seniors. He said reading a text for five minutes while driving 55 miles per hour equaled traveling the length of a football field blind. He also said that one text while behind the wheel amounted to the same amount of distraction as drinking four beers.
“Obviously, the whole idea behind this is to make the roads safer by encouraging people to focus on the road, not external things,” Whitford said of the campaign.
The breakfast ended with students being asked to pledge that they would not text and drive.
Students left their thumbprints on a banner that will hang in the hall of the school. Over the coming weeks, the texting campaign will continue as Cutler lines the halls of the school with other reminders that “texting kills.” She has enlisted the school’s cheerleading team to man booths and encourage underclassmen to make the same pledge as the seniors and will be posting a sign with another “no texting and driving” reminder at the entrance of the school.
Governor Beverly Perdue is expected to declare Sept. 19 as “No texting and driving” day. Northside students will assemble that day and hear from the mother of Sarah Edwards, a Chocowinity teenager killed in a wreck while texting.
The day will include other presentations and events meant to drive the message home.
Cutler’s interest in the campaign started with a drive she took with her son, Zachary, a senior at the school.
Cutler was driving and texting, using an elbow to steer her vehicle.
“My son turned to me and said, ‘Mom, at least when I text and drive, I keep a hand on the wheel.’ All it took was that one comment,” Cutler said. “The next morning, I woke up a woman possessed.”
She and Brooks received a lot of support from Northside Principal Charles Clark. He said if Cutler and Brooks’ efforts could save one kid, it would all be worth it.
“Being from this community, I have a vested interest in this school. These kids are not only important to their families, but to the high school community as well,” Clark said. “We’re just blessed to have a school that includes parents and groups like AT&T and Allstate to help put this event on.”