Great Hang Up: Tweens learn lesson about texting & driving

8:44 AM, Feb 14, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- You're never too young to learn, especially when it's a lesson that could save a life.

Students at the Carrollwood Day School may not be old enough to drive, but quickly learned what it's like to be distracted behind the wheel.

Michele Money-Carson, from AT&T public relations, brought a special driving simulator to Barbie Monty's class on Wednesday.  It looked like a video game, but with a steering wheel, an accelerator and a brake.  She also brought her cell phone.

When students got behind the wheel and started to drive, the text message alert would sound on the phone.  They were asked to continue driving and answer the text.

It didn't take long for the students to learn that texting and drive can have very serious consequences.  Most of the students wrecked.  A few hit pedestrians.  None were successful.

But the students already knew texting and driving is dangerous because they've been studying the problem for weeks. Each year, Carrollwood Day School challenges its students to come up with an issue or problem they want to research, then take action to make it better.

"It was almost unanimous that they were interested in texting and driving," said fifth grade teacher Barbie Monty. "They knew it was something important and could impact them even though they're not current drivers."

While they still have five or six years before they're driving, you can bet the students will pass on what they've learned to their parents, siblings or anyone else who will listen.

"It's really simple to just put down the phone," said fifth grader Julia Gutgesell.  "Text someone when you get somewhere--when you get to your destination. That's as simple as it is. You can text them later. Your driving is the most critical thing that you should be focusing on at that moment."

In a couple of weeks, the students will also have another visitor: Rep. Doug Holder of Sarasota.  He is sponsoring an anti-texting bill in the state House this year.


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