The Duncan Banner

Local News

September 19, 2013

DHS to host assembly on dangers of texting

2 events today for ‘It Can Wait’ campaign

DUNCAN — In a matter of seconds, lives can be changed by something as simple as a few words on a screen.

In 2010, Sept. 19 was declared National Don’t Text and Drive Day. The Duncan High School Leadership Class is making an effort today to push the message to their peers and the community that “It Can Wait.”

An all-school assembly will be at 10:40 a.m. today in the DHS auditorium. “From One Second to the Next,” a 12-minute documentary on the dangers and consequences of texting while driving, will be shown.

“Taylor Barrick, a senior, this subject is near and dear to her heart,” said Lauren Hackler, Leadership Class sponsor. “She has prepared a speech for the assembly.”

Although many states have enacted laws banning the use of hand-held phone devices while driving or texting while driving, Oklahoma has not.

Speaking at today’s event will be Joe Williams with Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the Air Evac Life Team. Weather permitting, the Air team will have their helicopter nearby.

There will be an almost identical gathering at 6 p.m. today, again at the DHS auditorium. Though the school assembly was done last year, the community meeting is something new the class is trying.

“We want parents, friends from other schools and anyone from the community to take the pledge,” Hackler said.

“The more people the better because we don’t want our community affected by this. It’s completely preventable.”

During the assemblies, everyone will be encouraged to take out their phones and text OKPLEDGE to 46429 in order to pledge to not text and drive.

State Sen. Don Barrington, a Republican from Lawton and chairman of the Senate Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, did not hear a bill last year to outlaw texting while driving. He said there were other pressing issues before his committee last session and he could not give all bills a hearing. He also makes decisions based on the chances a bill has of moving all the way through the process.

He said there are different schools of thought about a state texting-while-driving law.

“One is taking people’s rights away from them,” he said, adding that education is sometimes the better answer. “You can pass texting laws but some people are still going to text. The smart ones won’t, but the sad part about that is some of the smart ones get banged up by the others.”

Helping encourage students’ families and friends, as well as the community, to attend the evening assembly, Hackler and her students have acquired donations from local businesses to give out as door prizes.

“We’re giving away a Samsung Tab 3,” she said. “We’re also having a drawing for one student to win a designated parking spot.”

The Leadership Class is also taking monetary donations to purchase Department of Transportation approved signs to put up around town. These signs will be visible reminders to drivers to put down their phones while behind the wheel.

“Each sign is about $150,” Hackler said. “We hope to get five or six.”

The Duncan Chamber of Commerce is joining in the efforts. Chris Deal, president, has encouraged Chamber members to take the pledge and help the DHS Leadership Class with awareness.

“Anything to help, we will,” said Deal. “Texting and driving is a big killer, especially in young drivers, and if even one life can be saved through this campaign, it will have been a good effort.”

Barrington said the possibility of giving the issue a hearing before his committee in the next session — if it is assigned to his committee — might be better than last year. For information, visit www.itcanwait.com.

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