Texting and driving can be fatal

caines | 9/20/2012, 5:30 a.m.

School board encourages youth to take No Texting While Driving pledge

Is a text message worth losing your life? Certainly not and yet texting while driving remains a national epidemic resulting in thousands of deaths on the roadways. The Miami-Dade County School Board is encouraging its youth and others in the community to stop texting while driving. "Texting is the most alarming distraction because it involves manual, visual, and cognitive distraction simultaneously, and it takes your eyes off the road for at least 4.6 seconds," according to the U.S. government distracted driving website. It is the same as driving the length of an entire football field, blindfolded. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that texting while driving increases a risk of collision by 23 percent. On Sept. 2, a 21-year-old aspiring rapper who lived in California, Ervin McKinness, boasted about tweeting, drinking and driving before dying in a one-car crash. Four others in the car also died. Many believed that tweeting and drinking while driving was the reason for his death, but later police reports proved that it was actually his friend, Jonathan Watson, 21, who was driving.

School board urges no texting while driving

Miami-Dade School Board Chair Perla Tabares Hantman has responded by encouraging teen drivers and the community to take the "No Texting While Driving" pledge on September 19 on www.itcanwait.com. This event is part of her safety campaign to bring awareness to the dangers of risky driving behaviors, including text-messaging and alcohol-impaired driving. There will be rallies at American Senior High school Sept. 19 and at Hialeah Senior High School on Oct. 16, during the National Teen Driver safety week. Hantman will be in attendance at both events. Each year, Hantman hosts a district-wide poster and public service announcement contest. Winners are awarded a cash prize and the first place poster is distributed to every school in the district. Hantman said she knows that the distracted driving awareness campaign is working because she often hears from students and school administrators that they have stopped their distracted driving behaviors due to the lessons learned from the posters and PSAs. Please put the phone down when driving, Hantman said. It can wait! By Malika A. Wrightmwright@miamitimesonline.com