Published 10:47 pm Thursday, October 18, 2012
To the Editor:
Thank you, two simple words with great meaning. Trying to find a way to thank all of the people who helped make the recent “Texting & Driving…IT CAN WAIT” campaign at Northside High School such a great success is almost impossible. I have never been the person who stands in front of the room to seek attention or believed that one person could make a difference. I was wrong.
Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger and bystander safety. But, because text messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction. Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.
Driving with my upcoming high school senior this past summer, I was texting and driving. All it took was a comment he made to me about when he “texts and drives” and it was a wakeup call heard loud and clear. So disturbed by the example I was setting to my children that I became convinced to right my wrong. When I first approached Charles Clark, Principal of Northside High School, there was no hesitation at all to my request to start a campaign for the students. Without hesitation he told me to “run with it.”
On Sept. 19, 2012, a distracted driving campaign was held as an all day event at Northside High School. The event consisted of a “distracted” obstacle course for seniors, informational booths, students making pledges not to text and drive, and an afternoon assembly that included a personal message to Northside students from Gov. Beverly Perdue. Prior to the event, Cutler’s Landscaping donated a sign for the student parking lot to remind students to “Hang Up and Drive.”
During the assembly the students watched informational videos and heard from guest speakers including Tracy O’Carroll who lost her daughter, Sarah Edwards, Jan. 5, 2011, as a result of texting and driving. Faculty, students and parents alike were all impacted by the knowledge gained during the day. The goal was to get the students’ attention and make them aware of the dangers of distracted driving. At the end of the day we all knew we had accomplished that goal. What an amazing experience it was and to think that it all started with an idea.
What enabled things to progress were the faculty of Northside High School, volunteers and businesses who donated time and materials to the campaign. At every turn, no one hesitated to offer the assistance needed to make it all possible, all I had to do was ask. My point is this: whether you are a large group or just one person, we will not make a difference if we don’t dare to try.
“I wondered why somebody didn’t do something. Then I realized, I am somebody.” ~Author Unknown