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Great Hang Up: Parents share story of daughter's texting death

4:33 PM, Sep 19, 2012   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- When it comes to communicating, teenagers will almost always choose texting over talking.  It's not a problem, unless they happen to be behind the wheel of a car.

On Wednesday, drivers-ed students at Hillsborough High School in Tampa heard from Steve and Agnes Augello of Spring Hill.  In 2008, their 17-year-old daughter Allie was heading home from a theater rehearsal in Pasco County, when she was struck head-on by 19-year-old who was driving the opposite direction and crossed the center line.

Both teenagers were killed in the crash.

Phone records showed that the other driver was texting just before the accident.

The Augellos told the students they had a rule for their daughter: she was not allowed to pick up her cell phone while she was driving.  It was found zipped in her purse.  But setting rules is just the beginning.

"The parents need to put their phones away and the parents need to follow the same rules," said Agnes Augello.  "Children will learn what they live.  So if everyone sets an example we can stop this."

The students also watched a video produced by AT&T called "The Last Text" which shares similar stories about the dangers of distracted driving.  All the stories seemed to affect the students.

"I'm a new driver--I just turned 15," said Hillsborough High student Lauren Martinez. "Know that I need my cell phone away from me...that just helps me a lot because I would not want to lose my life over a text message." 

Shortly after their daughter's death, the Augellos began pushing for a statewide ban on texting and driving--known as "Allie's Law."  The bill has never made it out of committee in the House of Representatives.  They promise to try again in next year's session.