Driving Blind for 5 Seconds

Left to right: Deputy Superintendent Jacci Harris, Whitman Assistant Principal Colleen Grady, Assemblyman Lupinacci, and Brandon V. Ray from AT&T.
Left to right: Deputy Superintendent Jacci Harris, Whitman Assistant Principal Colleen Grady, Assemblyman Lupinacci, and Brandon V. Ray from AT&T.
Whitman seniors put pen to paper acknowledging their pledge to not text and drive.
Whitman seniors put pen to paper acknowledging their pledge to not text and drive.
Seniors make the pledge to never text while driving.
Seniors make the pledge to never text while driving.
Principal Acker wants to make sure each and every senior in attendance will be present on June 27th- Graduation Day.
Principal Acker wants to make sure each and every senior in attendance will be present on June 27th- Graduation Day.

With a new school year underway, this is the perfect time to remind everyone, especially our young drivers, that traffic safety is a priority. New York State Assemblyman Chad A. Lupinacci teamed up with AT&T to educate Walt Whitman High School students, faculty and staff about a very dangerous driver distraction - texting and driving.  This past Friday afternoon, Walt Whitman seniors gathered for a sobering assembly. The program “It Can Wait” was an anti-texting while driving program sponsored by AT&T and Assemblyman Lupinacci. “Texting while driving has become an all-too-familiar end for so many families,” said Lupinacci. “Too often, these tragic accidents could have been prevented by drivers’ simply putting down the phone and waiting to text until they’ve arrived safely at their destination.”

Principal Kathleen Acker opened the program as she introduced Brandon V. Ray, AT&T External Affairs for Long Island; and Assemblyman Lupinacci. Principal Acker spoke with the students about some very sobering facts including that texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk, and that texting while driving is equivalent to driving blind for 5 seconds.

Studies show that those who text while driving are much more likely to be in a crash and more than 200,000 car crashes and injuries happen while a driver was texting and driving. Research also finds that sending or looking at a tweet, Facebook post or email from behind the wheel is just as deadly.

What really got everyone’s attention was an emotionally charged 10-minute Documentary YouTube video clip called “The Last Text.” This was a heartfelt true account of lives lost and the very last texts as displayed on their phones. Brandon Ray shared with the students what AT&T is doing to help combat this deadly compulsion. The Whitman seniors, in an unusual moment of cell phone permission within the school, were able to pledge on the spot and then signed pledge cards promising to never text while driving.