Harborfields High Students Learn About Dangers of Distracted Driving

Harborfields High School students got schooled on the dangers of smartphone distracted driving this week through AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign.

Nearly 9-in-10 people admitted to using their smartphone while driving in a 2017 online survey of more than 6,000 distracted drivers conducted by Kantar Added Value, and people are doing much more than texting while behind the wheel; they’re checking email, accessing social media and even snapping photos.

Students saw the dangers of distracted driving in short documentary films at an assembly Monday at Harborfields High School presented by AT&T and hosted by Suffolk County Legislator William Spencer, M.D. After the screening, the students discussed tactics to stay safe behind the wheel and signed the “It Can Wait” pledge.

The two short films screened at the assembly told the heartbreaking stories of two teenage boys who died in car accidents that were caused by distracted driving through in-depth interviews with their families. Their siblings related how special their lives were; students saw their mothers’ pain as they remembered their loss; and through the collaboration of forensic artists and a visual effects team, students even got a glimpse at what they would’ve looked like today. (Watch the full-length videos on YouTube here and here.)

“The impact of distracted driving does not discriminate. It can devastate any of us and our loved ones in an instant. The good news is that we can avoid it, but with the force of technology driving us to distraction, we must actively join efforts, raise awareness and change behaviors,” Spencer said. “I am grateful to collaborate with the Harborfields School District and AT&T to educate students on the dangers of this growing concern and empower them to make decisions that will help keep us all safe.”

Bringing the “It Can Wait” campaign to Harborfields shows the district supports the idea of not engaging in distracted driving, said Harborfields High School Assistant Principal Chris Patronaggio. “We’re confident that making this pledge and bringing awareness to students will help save lives,” Patronaggio said.

The campaign has a simple message: it can all wait when a driver is behind the wheel, said Marissa Shorenstein, president of AT&T’s Northeast region. “We’ve heard too many stories of lives forever changed as a result of sending a simple text message while driving. AT&T is committed to educating as many people as we can about the dangers of distracted driving.”

“I think we have to see our vehicle as a potential weapon that can be harmful,” said Harborfields senior Dylan Irgang said after watching the short films. “During the time we are driving, let’s keep our focus on the road and detach from our phones; they will be there when we get to our destination.”

“It Can Wait”  is a national movement urging drivers to keep their eyes on the road, not on their phones—distracted driving is never OK. The campaign began with a focus on not texting and driving and has been expanded to outline the broader dangers of smartphone use behind the wheel.

Since its launch in 2010, the campaign has:

  • Helped grow awareness of the dangers of smartphone distracted driving to nearly all of those surveyed.
  • Inspired more than 30 million pledges to not drive distracted.
  • Collaborated with AT&T data scientists on research that shows how statewide anti-texting laws impact the rate of texting while driving.

In that research, AT&T data scientists crunched numbers taken from three months of anonymized data on its network and learned that states that have statewide anti-texting laws have lower rates of texting while driving – at a statistically significant level.

The data indicates the four states without a full statewide ban have a roughly 17 percent higher rate of texting while driving incidents than the 46 states with statewide bans.

To learn more, go to ItCanWait.com.

At the “It Can Wait” assembly at Harborfields High School. From left to right: Chris Patronaggio, assistant principal; Brandon Ray, AT&T regional director; Tim Russo, principal; Alison Joyce, assistant principal; William Spencer, Suffolk County legislator; and Dylan Irgang, Harborfields High School senior. Photo credit: Legislator William Spencer’s office

 

A student signs the “It Can Wait” pledge board after an assembly about the dangers of distracted driving this week at Harborfields High School. Photo credit: Legislator William Spencer’s office

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