JA project targets distracted driving

Published 6:43 pm Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Do you text message while you’re driving?

If so, the provisional class of the Junior Auxiliary ofBrookhaven is asking you to put the cell phone down while you’rebehind the wheel.

The class has partnered with the U.S. Department ofTransportation in a national “Put It Down” campaign to enddistracted driving, with the class placing special emphasis ongetting people to stop texting while driving, said classmembers.

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“The Department of Transportation sponsors the “Put It Down”campaign, and they wanted communities to help sponsor thecampaign,” said JA class member Dana Shoemake.

As class members were searching for their service project forthe year, they found the campaign, and their interest wasimmediately grabbed, said Shoemake.

“We decided to use the campaign, with our main focus on tryingto get people not to text and drive,” she said.

Class members started work on the project in the summer, and forthe past few weeks, they’ve been busy spreading the word about thedangers of texting and driving, said Shoemake.

The class ordered 2,200 rubber wrist bracelets with the message”Dnt Txt N Drv :)” engraved in them, and then distributed thebracelets to local high school students, she said.

“We distributed 1,900 bracelets in the Brookhaven schools,Lincoln County schools, and at Brookhaven Academy, and we gave therest away at the Ole Brook Festival,” said Shoemake.

They also distributed an information sheet with statistics aboutthe dangers of texting and driving, she said.

Class members said that one of the most telling statistics isthat cell phone use causes 28 percent of all automobile accidents,according to a report from the National Safety Board.

Statistics like that are what drive the project, said classmember Debbie Keene.

“We were made aware that distracted driving is just as bad asdriving under the influence, and that really woke us up and made uswant to do this,” said Keene.

The community has responded well to the project, said classmembers.

“The students at the schools have been very receptive,” saidShoemake.

Keene said the project’s booth at the Ole Brook Festivalgarnered a lot of interest from parents and grandparents.

“They were glad we were doing this,” said Keene.

The group said that although they were unsure of the project’simpact, they were glad they had done it.

“If we make a difference in one teen’s life, the whole thing wasworth it,” said Keene.