SFHS program stresses dangers of texting, driving


SHEBOYGAN FALLS HIGH SCHOOL held a special assembly about the dangers of texting while driving Friday, April 10 in the SFHS auditorium. The program, which was sponsored by AT&T, AAA and the Wisconsin State Patrol, promoted the It Can Wait movement to remind students that text messages can, and should, wait until after driving. Pictured left to right are Nick Jarmusz of AAA, state Rep. Tyler Vorpagel of Plymouth, Julie Tonkovitz of AT&T Wisconsin, Trooper Jim Reese of the Wisconsin State Patrol and Sheboygan Falls High School Principal Luke Goral. - Submitted photo SHEBOYGAN FALLS HIGH SCHOOL held a special assembly about the dangers of texting while driving Friday, April 10 in the SFHS auditorium. The program, which was sponsored by AT&T, AAA and the Wisconsin State Patrol, promoted the It Can Wait movement to remind students that text messages can, and should, wait until after driving. Pictured left to right are Nick Jarmusz of AAA, state Rep. Tyler Vorpagel of Plymouth, Julie Tonkovitz of AT&T Wisconsin, Trooper Jim Reese of the Wisconsin State Patrol and Sheboygan Falls High School Principal Luke Goral. - Submitted photo Over 540 students at Sheboygan Falls High School learned about the dangers of texting while driving and were urged to take a pledge to never text behind the wheel, during a special assembly in the SFHS auditorium Friday, April 10.

SFHS teamed up with AT&T, AAA, the Wisconsin State Patrol and State Rep. Tyler Vorpagel as part of the It Can Wait movement to remind students that text messages can, and should, wait until after driving.

“Not only is it against the law, but texting and driving is one of the most dangerous activities a driver can do behind the wheel,” said Sheboygan Falls High School Principal Luke Goral. “We hope our students take the It Can Wait message to heart and take the pledge to never text and drive.”

The assembly at SFHS was part of a series of events being held across the state this year by AT&T, AAA and the Wisconsin State Patrol to drive home the dangers of texting and driving and encourage teens to take the pledge.

During assembly, SFHS students learned about “#X” – a new social tool introduced as part of the It Can Wait campaign that is geared toward helping teens stop texting and driving.

SFHS school officials were also presented with two permanent It Can Wait parking lot signs that remind students to never text and drive.

“Our It Can Wait campaign has always targeted teens, as they are not only our newest and most inexperienced drivers, but also the most prevalent texters,” said Scott T. VanderSanden, president of AT&T Wisconsin. “#X is simple, quick to enter, and easily shareable, and we hope it will act as a digital rallying cry for teens and others to help end this deadly epidemic.”

“#X” is a tool that teens can use to pause a text or social conversation before beginning to drive.

The symbol is a way for teens to quickly let their friends know that they are about to drive and won’t be responding to texts or social media until they arrive safely at their destination.

Students were given the chance to experience the dangers of texting while driving in a safe setting through AAA’s distracted driving simulator.

They were also shown a powerful documentary produced by AT&T called “The Last Text” that shares real stories about lives ended by someone’s decision to text and drive.

AT&T first launched the It Can Wait campaign in 2009 to educate the public about the dangers of texting while driving and encourage consumers to take the pledge to not text and drive at www.It- CanWait.com

The campaign has now turned into a national social movement with support from organizations all across the country, including the Wisconsin State Patrol and AAA.

Since 2010, AT&T, AAA and the Wisconsin State Patrol have partnered together to hold events in 66 cities throughout Wisconsin, reaching over 28,100 high school students.

“Despite Wisconsin’s ban, too many people are still texting and driving when they should be focused on driving,” said State Rep. Tyler Vorpagel of Plymouth. “Campaigns like It Can Wait are vital to spreading the message about the dangers and encouraging drivers to put down their phones when on the road.”

The It Can Wait movement is making a difference. The campaign has now inspired over 6 million pledges to never text and drive, and one in three people who have seen the texting while driving message say they’ve changed their driving habits.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently completed a groundbreaking naturalistic study of teen crashes, which revealed that teens who were texting prior to a crash had taken their eyes off the road for an average of 4.1 out of the last six seconds before impact.

“The dangers of texting are greatest for teen drivers who cannot draw upon previous experience to manage unsafe situations,” said Vicki Hanson, regional president of AAA Wisconsin. “We en courage parents to reinforce the It Can Wait campaign at home by implementing a parent-teen driving agreement.”

A copy of AAA’s sample driving agreement and other teen driving resources can be found at www.TeenDriving.AAA.com.

Wisconsin’s law, effective as of Dec. 1, 2010, prohibits sending an e-mail or text message while driving and imposes a fine of up to $400.

As a primary enforcement law, officers may stop and ticket drivers solely for texting and driving.

Wisconsin is among 41 states and the District of Columbia that ban text messaging by all drivers.

For more information on the It Can Wait® campaign, visit ItCan- Wait.com.


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