St. Andrew's Students Told: 'It Can Wait'
RI officials, including the Attorney General, spread the message about the dangers of texting and driving at St. Andrews' School in Barrington.
Texting while driving: It can wait.
Approximately 180 students at St. Andrew’s School in Barrington heard and viewed that message in sometimes shocking detail Wednesday afternoon, Janu. 9.
Delivering that message were several state officials, including RI Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, RIDOT Director Michael Lewis and RI State Police Maj. David Tikoian. Kilmartin, in particular, said: “Is there something so important that it can’t wait?”
Kilmartin said they were visiting St. Andrew’s to emphasize how easily a 10-character or less text message can lead to a tragedy like several of the real life stories documented in “The Last Text” video put together by AT&T for the national “Txtng & Driving…It Can Wait” campaign.
A typical text message will take a driver’s eyes off the road for less than the time it takes to drive the length of a football field at 60 mph, emphasized both Kilmartin and Lewis. That distraction – a few seconds -- can kill or tragically change the direction of a person’s life.
The real-life stories of death and serious injury in the video “have something in common with you and me,” said Kilmartin. “They thought it could not happen to them. But it did and in seconds.”
Kilmartin was one of the forces behind the legislation in RI that prohibits texting while driving; he introduced that bill first when he was a state legislator.
“You have the power to not text and drive,” Kilmartin said. “That’s a conscious decision. Don’t do it. It can wait.”
Lewis said roads and highways and cars are being built safer than ever.
“Very little more can be done,” he said. “The real problem is us.”
Lewis said statistics compiled in Virginia show that “drivers are 23 times more likely to crash while texting than when drinking.”
“When you take your eyes off the road, you don’t know what’s in front of you,” he said. “It’s like driving blindfold for the length of a football field.”
“Why are we really here?” said Kilmartin, who has made a dozen or so trips to schools in RI to spread the message. “I’m here so I don’t have to see that in Barrington you are a defendant or a victim.”
The students were then asked to sign a pledge not to text and drive. Most of them seemed to sign one of two poster boards set up on easels in the arts center.
You can see the video the students saw by clicking here.