North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

September 25, 2013

It Can Wait: Students pledge not to text while driving

By Melanie Patterson
North Jefferson News

— Texting and driving can be deadly.

That is the message that Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange is promoting, in conjunction with AT&T.

In a program called “It Can Wait,” Strange and AT&T representatives visited Mortimer Jordan and Gardendale high schools on Thursday to spread the word to students.

Students watched a sobering 12-minute video that detailed the experiences of two people who caused fatal accidents while they were texting and driving, as well as families who’s loved ones had been struck by a person who was texting while driving.

After the video, the attorney general asked students to raise their hands in a pledge to never text while driving.

Strange told them that he had formerly been guilty of texting while driving, especially with his children, but that he has kicked the habit.

Mortimer Jordan High School principal Barbara Snider pointed out that the rule about texting and driving goes both ways.

“Don’t text other people when you know they’re driving,” she said. “We’re a family here. We do what’s best for each other.”

Strange said texting causes 100,000 vehicle accidents a year. AT&T officials said those accidents result in 3,000 deaths and 330,000 injuries every year.

Gardendale High School principal Jeff Caufield said nobody intends harm when they choose to send a quick text while driving.

“We want you to be around and to live to a ripe old age to be with your families,” he told students. “Just a few seconds can make a difference in someone’s life. It could be your life.”

At Mortimer Jordan, Kimberly Mayor Bob Ellerbrock read a proclamation that the city adopted; it states that the city is firmly opposed to texting while driving because it endangers lives.

Mayor Othell Phillips read the same proclamation at Gardendale High School.

Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Dr. Stephen Nowlin was also at the events, along with other guests.