Whitehall News

'Just three seconds looking down'

WYHS students, staff launch no-texting pledge campaign

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According to the Institute for Highway Safety Fatality Facts, texting while driving causes 11 teen deaths every day. In fact, teen drivers are four times more likely to crash than older drivers.

In an effort to curb those statistics, some students at Whitehall-Yearling High School are doing their part in collecting pledges to add to a million others across the nation to put an end to texting while driving.

"If we can save just one life, we'll know our efforts were worth it," said Lisa Funk, a secretary in the administrative offices at WYHS.

For the past two weeks, she and her student office workers have held a campaign at the high school, collecting student signatures pledging to put an end to their own texting while driving. They've made posters with photos and statistics, shocking fellow classmates as to the severity of the problem, and distributed thumb bands and pledge cards for students and staff members to wear.

"Just three seconds looking down, you could hit someone," said Alyson Stults, a sophomore. "You just never know what's going to happen."

Stults said she was shocked by the data she and the other students had collected for the campaign.

"I went home and talked to my mom about it, and I actually gave her one of the bands," she said. "And now she wears it."

With about 800 students at WYHS, Funk said, they intend to get everyone to sign AT&T's no-texting-and-driving pledge -- even the staff.

WYHS principal Carl Svagerko was on board from the beginning.

"I want our students to understand that some of the choices we make can have many lasting negative effects no matter how simple we think those actions seem to be," Svagerko said. "An action as simple as reading a text message on a cellphone while driving can have such a lasting, devastating effect on someone's life.

"I want our students to rally around causes that can make a difference, not only in their lives but (also) in the lives of their loved ones and others that they do not even know," he said.

Once the pledge is signed, will students truly adhere to their promise when no one is watching?

Andrea Seberig, a junior, thinks so.

"A lot of us are in driving school so we learn about this," she said. "But we often don't really think about it until we hear about the statistics. Just the looks on (students') faces when they do see the pictures and the statistics, I'm pretty sure most of them will take this pledge seriously."

Most of those leading the campaign said they have found themselves in the car with someone who is texting while driving or know someone who does it.

Senior Jessie Wells admitted to texting while driving but said she has changed her ways. She hands the phone over to her friend, Torri Barry, also a senior, and asks her to text for her instead.

The students also are being encouraged to get their parents to sign the pledge as well.

"If the parents aren't taking responsibility for punishing their own children or they're not leading by example, then that is an issue," Funk said. "Parents are just as guilty."

Freshman Tyler Lowe said he knows adults who text while driving, putting others in danger.

The students will collect pledges every day at lunch through Friday, April 19.

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